International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 1

December 17 this year is the 6th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Due to the social discrimination and the unfair legal treatment, sex workers are often exposed to different kinds of violence. We hope to commemorate the sex workers who have been bullied and killed with today’s activity, arouse more public concern on sex workers’ safety, respect and protect sex workers’ human rights.

Can I choose staying alive?
This is never a good year for sex workers in Hong Kong: four of them were killed by one serial killer and a copycat in March; one 15-year-old sex worker was chopped into pieces in the middle of the year, and one sex worker was brutally killed in November. Because of the social stigma on sex work, sex workers are often exposed to crime and violence. The above killings aroused much public attention. Yet, a group of the people still believes that sex workers create the troubles for themselves and do not deserve any sympathy. However, what they never think of is that, the victims do have their parent, children, friends and neighbors. They work under great fear and pressure everyday, praying that they will not be the next victim. What pushes them behind to work in this dangerous situation is their strong desire to earn money and take care of their family. While sex workers are often condemned, they still fail to rest in peace after death. Their family can only secretly mourn for them in the dark so as to escape from the social discrimination.

After the death of six sex workers, we are glad that the police do work more to protect sex workers. For instance, the police in Shamshiupo, Tsuen Wan and Yuen Long are enthusiastic to solve the cases reported by sex workers. They also respect and offer substantial help to sex workers. A number of robbers are thus arrested. Nevertheless, still there are police officers striving to discourage sex workers from reporting the case, say, disguise their anti-sex workers raids as protective measures for women, force sex workers to provide the lease, or require sex worker who reports the case to provide her husband ‘s name and work place. This year, the United Nations has shown particular concern on police abuse against sex workers when examining the government report on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We urge the police to keep on protecting sex workers as well as improving current protective measures for sex workers. We particularly hope that the police can stop abusing sex workers.

During the previous week, we collected the signatures from more than 282 citizens, clients and sex workers. We hope that we can send our grief to the victims, and our blessings to their family on this special day for sex workers.

17 Dec 2008

1 International Day to End Violence Against Sex Worker
Background: This day originated from the day when Green River serial killer Gary Ridway, who has raped and killed more than 48 sex workers, was convicted. In order to stop violence against sex workers, sex worker organization SWOP has called upon sex workers throughout the world to organize activity to raise concern for those victimized sex workers, voice against violence and advocating to protect them through legislation.