Sex workers suffer ‘horrific’ rape, beatings and discrimination

May 26, 2016
Sex Work News
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By Lin Taylor

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Sex workers around the world face violence, rape, widespread discrimination and extortion, a global human rights watchdog said on Thursday, with male or transgender sex workers facing further stigma from the police, clients and the community.

Research published by Amnesty International showed that sex workers globally lack protection from “horrific” abuse and violence, even in countries like Norway, which are perceived to have strong human rights laws.

From Papua New Guinea to Argentina, Hong Kong and Norway, researchers consistently found cases of sex workers being physically and sexually abused by clients and the police.

“Sex workers are experiencing horrific levels of violence and abuse throughout the world,” Kate Schuetze, a policy advisor at Amnesty International, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In many cases police are the perpetrators of the abuse, making sex workers reluctant to report the crime, especially if prostitution is illegal in their country, Schuetze said.

She added that sex workers caught carrying condoms – seen by police as evidence of illegal activity – have been arrested or targeted for extortion, which in turn discourages safer sex practices.

Mona, a sex worker in Papua New Guinea, said she was raped by several police officers after being caught with a client.

“I don’t have any support to come to court and report them. It was so painful to me, but then I let it go,” Mona was quoted by Amnesty as saying. “If I go to the law, they cannot help me as sex work is against the law in PNG.”

SEX WORK VS SEX TRAFFICKING

In April, France followed Northern Ireland, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in introducing legislation to make it an offense to buy sex.

Some activists said shifting the criminal charge from victim to the client would make countries like France less attractive for pimps and traffickers.

But male sex worker Luca Stevenson said conflating sex work with sex trafficking was problematic.

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