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Sex workers tend not to report sexual abuse or rape because of the stigma attached to their line of work, but a new model that encourages reports to be treated as hate crimes has seen reporting rise in the UK.
Women who work in prostitution are prone to violent, sexual assault. In the UK, it is estimated that around half of the women in the industry have been raped. However, due to the nature of their work, sex workers are less likely to report these crimes out of fear that they may be prosecuted for crimes related to prostitution. One escort revealed to The F Word “I felt I would be judged by the police and their detailed questioning. I felt they would be categorised as ‘alleged’ rapes, with question marks over my reliability and circumstances…and that feeling would be too hard to handle. There was also the question of confidentiality, not knowing how many police officers I might have to speak to…could I trust them all?”
However, a model of reporting crimes against sex workers as hate crimes has been trialed in Merseyside in the North West of England. The pilot was launched after the Merseyside Police Force pledged to treat crimes against sex workers as hate crimes in 2006. The success of the model is overwhelming. By 2009, the Merseyside Police Force convicted 90% of those who had been accused of raping sex workers and the overall conviction rate for crimes against sex workers rose to 84% in 2010. The model truly shows it colours when analysing rape convictions. In 2010, Merseyside boasted a 64% conviction rate for rape, staggering in comparison to the national rape conviction average which stands at just 6.5%.
This outstanding model has now been recommended to be adopted by the London Metropolitan Police by the Silence on Violence report commissioned by the Mayor of London. The capital is struggling with its underground sex industry and recent reports have found that the number of female sex workers reporting crimes is actually in decline. It is hoped that in adopting this new model that has seen such a significant rise in successful prosecutions of rape, women will feel confident enough to come forward and report the crimes committed against them.
For the full story: http://www.thefword.org.uk/features/2013/08/why_crimes_agai