There are are two key factors that intersect to make sex workers uniquely vulnerable to these systemic problems. Firstly, the current criminalisation of sex workers means that more than 80% of us are targeted for entrapment by police posing as clients. Entrapment makes sex workers fear and actively avoid contact with police whom are not trusted as protectors. Sex worker safety is compromised by laws that criminalise our standard safety strategies making us more vulnerable to crime including sexual assault.
Secondly, a long history of misuse of police powers over sex workers and excessively high levels of stigma inform police attitudes about consent in sex work resulting in sex workers’ reports of crime including sexual violence not being treated seriously. Sex workers who report are often subject to further surveillance by police without obtaining support for the sexual assault. In this way police target sex workers for minor charges, yet repeatedly fail to act on the more serious crime/sexual assault against us.
It is the unique and systemic nature of these barriers to criminal justice for women who work as sex workers that must be understood and addressed. These issues have persisted for decades but to date have been ignored, this process is the opportunity to change this cycle.