Violence Against Sex Workers
Violence against sex workers is a complex issue.There is no standard definition for violence against sex workers as sex workers face different issues from various parties.
However, there are laws in place to protect sex workers from harm and exploitation – such as under the Women’s Charter, Penal Code, Protection from Harassment Act and Prevention from Human Trafficking Act.
Sex worker is not illegal, but many activities related to sex work are, such as managing a brothel and living off the earnings of prostitution. These are part of the broader set of laws to protect sex workers from harm and exploitation.
Examples and Possible Signs
Sex workers are susceptible to:
1. Harassment, not respecting the privacy of the sex workers
2. Physical assault, use of physical violence towards the sex worker
3. Financial violence i.e. not getting paid for services, theft and the use of counterfeit money
4. Clients’ refusal to use a condom
The list above is not exhaustive.
If you are/suspect a sex worker is experiencing violence, you may contact Project X to speak to their case workers.
What can I do if I am experiencing similar scenarios?
How can friends and family support the victim?
- Show empathy to the victim. Listen and do not judge. Validate their feelings and experiences. This gives them emotional support.
- Suggest organisations that can help them such as the police or Project X but let them decide what to do next. Do not make decisions for them or force them into a decision.
- Offer to accompany them to the police or other organisations.
- Continue to check in on them.
How can I seek legal help?
- StreetSmart Initiative mobile legal clinic by Project X and Law Society (contact Project X
to find out where and when)
- Project X legal workshop to know sex worker rights (contact them to find out more)
- Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
In 2019, there were 119 vice abettors arrested by the Police for Women’s Charter offences for their various roles in exploiting women in prostitution.
Refer to section on Trafficking in Persons for more statistics