Sexual assault of sex workers is common in the region. Sexual assault is any unwanted touching, or it could be the use of force to make you do something sexual that you did not consent to. Sexual assault is a crime and should be reported.

 

Violence against sex workers is not only committed by clients, but also agents of the state that should know better. For example, sex workers who are jailed for selling sex are sometimes required to perform sexual favours in exchange for their release. In some instances state agents such as police officers bribe clients by forcing them to go to automated banking machines and give them money in exchange for not reporting them to their wives or girlfriends.

 

 

Let others know

If you have been abused by state agents or by clients, you should talk to someone about it. Talk to a friend, a trusted doctor, or an advocacy organisation, but don’t keep abuse to yourself. Any traumatic experience will require support – you don’t have to do it on your own.

 

Once you have received the support you need, you could consider letting other sex workers know about the person or persons who assaulted you. This would allow other sex workers keep tabs on clients who habitually assault them sexually or physically.  Some associations have mechanisms in place where abusive clients are reported – this may include descriptions and areas frequented.

 

To minimise the dangers associated with sex work, here are a few tips:

  • Somebody knows where you are at all times. Text a friend your location and if picked up, text the car’s licence plate number to a friend
  • If you work on the streets, always work in groups
  • Don’t go into cars unless you know where you are headed

 

Earning a living as a sex worker has its dangers and it is important that you feel safe doing it. If you feel threatened or were assaulted while working, you don’t have to remain silent.Tell a friend or colleague and seek the support of organisations who work with sex workers to get over the trauma. You may even feel compelled to report the crime to the police. If you choose to do the latter, remember you may be required to undergo extensive and intrusive medical examinations. You may even be required to go to court. Remember, no one has the right to sexually abuse you because you are a sex worker.

 

Jamaica

In Jamaica, the Sex Work Association of Jamaica (SWAJ) has developed an agreement with senior police officers in key police stations across the island. These officers were trained around human rights issues and HIV. If assaulted, sex workers should call the following Police Stations and ask for the Officer in Charge. Their report will be treated as a crime:

·         Ocho Rios Police Station – 974-2496

·         CISOCA in Kingston – 926-6538

·         Half-Way Tree Police Station – 926-8184

·         Barnett Street Police Station – 971-8814

·         Savanna-la-Mar Police Station – 918-1690

 

You can also contact ‘Princess’ at SWAJ if you need emotional support at 848-0821 or Anthony Peters at 978-2345.

 

Guyana

In Guyana, victims of sexual assault can contact Miriam ... for emotional support.

 

Dominican Republic

 

Trinidad and Tobago

 

Suriname