About 65 percent sex workers are abused by cops. This was according to a recent survey conducted by the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC) to 80 Johannesburg-based sex workers in South Africa. The study revealed 52 of them were abused in different forms.
TLAC said emotional violence is the most popular form of abuse, which included spitting, receiving insults, swearing and chasing away the victims. One incident of physical abuse was also reported. Unlawful arrests were also part of the abuses of these men in uniform.
When asked, 16 percent of the sex workers claimed they had been physically abused by police officers while 5 percent noted that they had been sexually assaulted. Critics observed that the police have violated their code of ethics and their duty to protect and serve the society.
Many officers are reportedly acting unlawfully and neglecting their responsibility to secure the general populace. The center also indicated that officers failed to perform their duties as sex work policing requires a different kind of sensibility.
12 percent of the sex workers were reportedly arrested while 10 percent were kept in cells without being allowed to appear in court. The survey claimed no lodged case against any violation of the police was taken to court as many sex workers were either apprehensive of being harassed or intimidated by the authorities.
Also, sex workers were found to be susceptible to other abuses by their clients and the police. These prevent them from accessing legal, social and health care services. They also experience low morale, deprived human rights and sometimes not being paid for their services.
TLAC suggested that decriminalizing prostitution may be required to save sex workers from unlawful treatments.
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