70% of Sex Workers Abused By Police

According to a study released by the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) on Wednesday, approximately 70% of sex workers have been abused by police.

The report of the study included first person narratives of some of the 308 sex workers interviewed, most of whom were from Cape Town and were women, however there were some men and transgender persons as well. Many of these narratives recounted being gang-raped by police officers or being forced to perform oral sex on them, as well as being assaulted by the officers, often with pepper spray.

“The human rights abuse of sex workers in South Africa is alarming and demands immediate attention,” reads the study. “Police officers commit these crimes with impunity. They remove their name tags so that sex workers are unable to identify them and they instil such fear in the sex workers that they are afraid to report these crimes to the authorities.”

It was also found that despite a 2009 Western Cape High Court order stating that police could not arrest sex workers without the intention of prosecuting them, many arbitrary arrests still occur. 138 of the interviewed sex workers said that they had been arrested with only 21 actually appearing in court.

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain Frederick Van Wyk said that none of the allegations in the study had been reported to the police and that if anyone had information about these acts of behaviour by police members, they need to come forward and lay formal complaints.

Categories : Education  |  Tags :