The sex work industry experiences one of the highest rates of violence against it’s members but has some of the least amount of reports about it and cases opened. Due to the stigma of working in this industry a lot of sex workers can feel like they are not in a position to do anything about it if they experience violence.
The violence does not just have to be physical either, According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), It states that it can be: “intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that results or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, sexual or psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation of liberty”
One example of abuse against Sex workers that is distressingly common is the act of removing a condom mid sex and not alerting the other person, This obviously increases the rick of transmission of STD’s, unwanted pregnancey and in more serious cases, HIV transmission. This abuse of power occurs because the sex worker either does not know it has been done or feels unable or afraid to confront the client about it for fear of withholding money or violence.
Sexual violence in terms of rape is also high on the list as once the sex worker has been put in a vulnerable position where they have a stranger in a room alone, they are sometimes subject to the idea that no matter if they say no or not, they are there to be used for sex at the clients wishes. This sometimes means another person arriving and joining in against the sex workers wishes.
Extortion is also prevalent, If the client refuses to pay but forces sex anyway they often get away with it as the sex worker is not going to go to the police and explain what happened. Even if prostitution is legal in the country it still carries a social stigma that means sex workers feel like they are not worthy of using the services that keep the average person safe.
Transgender and especially persons of colour are in the highest risk caterogory because of the added homophobia and racist risks involved with putting themselves in these situations with someone who may turn out to be prejudiced and turn violent.
Sex workers who choose to work outside are more at risk than those who work from a brothel or some other supervised and busy environment and are even targeted by serial killers as they are seen as people that often go missing or will not be missed alongside the stigma attached to them often giving some kind of justification to the attacker.