Why You Won't See Many Sex Workers On the Streets

The real life risks associated with sex work has always been present, however in more recent times, it appears that more sex workers feel particularly unsafe on the streets.


There has been a number of cases involving physical violence towards sex workers, even in recent years. It's no wonder that the number of sex workers willing to attract customers on the streets has fallen significantly.

For example, just last month a man was convicted and jailed for attacking a sex worker in Sydney and causing mass damage to the brothel. It caught on fire.

Other reports; back in December 2017, a horrific crime came to the Australian media's attention when a man, who booked a session with two sex workers, arrived with two brothers and went on to threaten the sex workers at knifepoint. They were repeatedly raped and robbed by these three men. According to the Canberra Times report, there was another incident involving one of the brothers and another sex worker.

Even just a month prior to this, a man attacked and choked a sex worker in a hotel room in London (Ontario), Canada. The local police took three days to release any information about the incident, which of course was condemned by local drop-in support centre Safe London.

Excerpt from the CBC report:

Details about the man's appearance, car, and area where the incident allegedly took place could have been placed on the centre's 'bad date line', which women can call to make sure they're not meeting a client who has a violent past. 
Neither Safe Space, Anova, nor the London Abused Women's Centre were contacted about the alleged assault. 
Any incident that alleges choking should be immediately released to the public and to groups who work with women, said Megan Walker, the executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre. 
"Strangulation activity is extremely serious," Walker said. "It's serious and troubling and speaks to a predator who wants full domination over a woman, to the point where he could take her life." 
Walker said police should release the information to both those who work with sex workers and to the media. 

These are just some of the recent reports that made mainstream media news. I would like to emphasise the word - report. Many cases of sexual assault, rape and other types of violence towards sex workers goes unreported. One reason, is due to the fact that many sex workers aren't convinced that they will be taken seriously or believed, due to the nature of their work.

Another; as we mentioned in our previous report about the cyberbullying issue plaguing the sex industry, many sex workers do not have the luxury of speaking to law enforcement to report a crime, not unless they are willing to risk being arrested for soliciting.

For sex workers operating in cities with high crime and poverty rates, the threat of physical assault and being forced into human trafficking is all too present. 

Many cities crime rates have increased in the last 10 years alone. For example, we know that South American countries such as Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia have a notoriously high crime rate, especially crimes involving drugs and violence. It is well documented that sex workers in these regions are at much higher risk of being mistreated or trafficked. 

What people may not know is that back in October last year, it was reported that London is now considered to be more dangerous than New York, due to the increase in crime rates. Many speculations have been made in relation to this but regardless of the reasoning, most will agree that there has been shift.

In major cities such as London, the risk factors are somewhat different. While trafficking does also occur in England (it's a global issue), sex workers are far more at risk of being robbed or attacked while working on the streets. 

Victim support, other charity / community based organisations and social workers are rarely willing to help in the instance of abuses being committed against sex workers during working hours. This is largely due to the legal status of sex work. 

This means that many sex worker's physical, emotional and mental health are not even being considered by the appointed bodies in charge of providing such services. They are left alone to deal with these traumatic experiences and with the overwhelming fear that the perpetrator is still at large and could easily be harming others. There is no closure and no means of ensuring the safety of others.

Those that are considered to be at higher risk or are vulnerable to being targeted by predators such as children and young women are now being considered a safeguarding priority by law and public services.

One can easily argue that sex workers are just as vulnerable and yet, no considerations have been made in the way of providing support. Nor has there been an initiative to provide sex workers with a line that can be used to report crimes without the fear of persecution. 

Until sex workers are made an integral part of the equal rights debate, society cannot claim the high ground nor refer to itself as being 'just' and 'empathetic'. 


Written by Brenda Adiyiah for Burn the Night.

In Association with Rose Talks Sex radio show.

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