Statement on the 13th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Today is the 13th International Day to End Violence Against Sex workers. Sex workers not only face the violence and rights violation from some frontline police officers, clients and criminals, they also meet the District Council Election.

Whenever there is election, sex workers will be raided. There is no exception this year. Sex workers are one of the targets in the police operations, as if they are the dirty spot that can damage the whole society, which should be removed especially during some big events. Several street-based sex workers came to us, telling us how they were ‘kindly reminded’ by some police officers not to work in the streets during the District Council Election. There were also police officers standing at the building entrance, seriously checking the identity card of sex workers’ clients. They only aimed to scare away the clients and they could then get rid of the complaints of either the District Councilors or the community.

During 2015, it was still a dangerous working environment for sex workers (see the table below). Among our handled cases, one woman met a South-Asian client. As the woman only understood Mandarin, she failed to communicate with the client. She also failed to stop the client from opening the drawer and took away her properties. What she could do was to bear the client’s attack on her face, head and chest, strived to cry for help as well.

Luckily, another sex worker working next door heard her cry and immediately knocked her door. She felt something wrong behind the door and quickly went downstairs for help. Other sex workers working in the same area also ran to the flat with one of them helped to call the police. While they were waiting for the police, two men ran upstairs to try to open the lock of the door. Eventually, as the sex worker inside the room tried her best to crawl to the door and open the lock, the two men could enter the room and stop the client. When the ambulanceman carried the sex worker to the ambulance, she was semiconscious with her face full of blood.

If the politicians and the public can stop discriminating sex workers and offer help to sex workers who need help, just like the two men in the above case, sex workers will not feel helpless when they are in trouble. Their working conditions will also be much improved. We sincerely hope that we can share with you how sex workers’ working environment is greatly bettered next year on this day.

Zi Teng
Sex workers concern group
17 December 2015

Number of cases where sex workers in Hong Kong face violence (2015)

Police violence/abuse Client/criminal violence
Arbitrary arrest 16 cases Denial of payment 30 cases
Strip search 3 cases Verbal threat and insult 9 cases
Verbal threat and insult 43 cases Theft 8 cases
Over use of violence 2 cases Robbery 5 cases
Being deprived of basic rights 17 cases Physical assault 15 cases
Free sexual service 2 cases Condom removed 5 cases
Indecent assault 4 cases Forced to take drugs 1 case
Physical assault 1 case Harassment 1 case
Free massage service before arrest 5 cases Police impostor 3 cases
Force/coax into signing the statement 10 cases Triad threats and harassment 2 cases
Neglect of Duty 1 case Candid camera 1 case
Obstructing the course of justice 5 cases Counterfeit note 6 cases
Excessive license check 22 cases Murder 2 cases
Grievous bodily harm 1 case
Forced labor 3 cases
Properties damaged 2 cases