Today is the 15th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Every year sex workers organizations all over the world carry out different types of activities to increase the public concern on sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, and to urge the society to eliminate discrimination against sex workers.

This year, since many sex workers were willing to come forward to testify against the bad guys, those who broke the law were brought to jail. For example, the guy who threatened a sex worker with nude photos was jailed for 10 months; the man who raped and robbed another sex worker was sentenced to 11-year imprisonment. This not only shows us how the court protects sex workers, it also shows that sex workers are not weak, ‘if we are willing to report crime, not only bad guys will receive punishment, we can also stand up for our rights’.

If we want the bad guys to be punished by law, police’ attitudes towards sex workers definitely plays a big role. Sex workers will less suffer if the police handle the case seriously. However, if the police are indifferent to the crime information, and even worse, they let those who hurt sex workers go, or ‘recommend’ sex workers to drop the case, they are simply encouraging the bad guys to use sex workers to release pressure or to treat sex workers as Automatic Teller Machine. During 2015, we only had 1 complaint about police neglect of duty. However, during 2017, we received 12 complaints about neglect of duty from sex workers, telling us how the police officers refused to handle their case. The number has increased 11 times.

We always think that it is the duty of the police to maintain social order and combat crime, and send those breaking the law to the court, but not forcing sex workers to withdraw the cases. Instead of ‘removing the crime information provided by sex workers’, we expect the frontline police officers can give substantial help and seriously deal with the crime reported by sex workers. We also urge the police to penalize all bad police officers, who misuse their power or recklessly handle a case, so as to rebuild public confidence and police discipline.

Zi Teng
Sex workers concern group
17 December 2017

Number of cases where sex workers in Hong Kong face violence (2017)
Police violence/abuse Client/criminal violence
Verbal threat and insult
10 cases
Denial of payment
26 cases
Being deprived of basic rights
7 cases
20 cases
Free sexual service
25 cases
Physical assault
6 cases
Indecent assault
7 cases
Condom removed
3 cases
Physical assault
2 cases
Grievous bodily harm
11 cases
Force/coax into signing the statement
11 cases
6 cases
Obstructing the course of justice
16 cases
3 cases
Excessive license check
9 cases
Indecent assault
3 cases
police break into house without warrant
63 cases
1 case
Free massage service before arrest
33 cases
candid camera
471 cases
Arbitrary arrest
142 cases
Forced labor
2 cases
Unnecessary use of authority
5 cases
Forced Sex
2 cases
Neglect of duty
12 cases
Privacy violation
3 cases
3 cases