Sex workers' complaints jump

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

The number of sex workers' complaints against police abuse doubled to 364 last year, an advocacy group said yesterday.

Zi Teng said the rise, partly attributed to increased awareness about the rights of sex workers, showed a need for more training for police officers to eliminate bias against sex workers.

In 2005, 170 complaints were filed with the group, which was set up in 1996 to fight discrimination against the city's sex workers.

Speaking after a meeting with lawmakers, the group's Elaine Lam Yee-ling expressed concern about complaints involving police taking pictures of sex workers even before their arrest. These accounted for 82 of the complaints it received.

'We got no such complaints in 2005. We wonder who told the police to do so and why,' said Ms Lam, calling the move intimidating.

Other major sources of complaints include forced or coerced signing of statements (39) and wrongful arrest for soliciting of customers (62).

A further 19 sex workers complained about police officers' acceptance of masturbation services, sexual intercourse or oral sex during undercover investigations.

'Many of the victims do not complain as they are afraid that the police will retaliate,' Ms Lam said. 'Even if they lodge a complaint, it often takes a long time to handle.'