Red umbrellas are used as the global symbol of sex workers rights including their right to protection from violence.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, has joined partner organisations across Cleveland to highlight the issues faced by sex workers.
The International Day to End Violence against sex workers, which took place yesterday (Thursday 17th December), raises awareness of the crimes committed against sex workers and highlights the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is often linked.
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, supported the day by meeting with some of the women engaged with A Way Out - a prevention and outreach charity working with the most vulnerable and at risk members of our society.
Red umbrellas are used on this day as the global symbol of sex workers rights including their right to protection from violence.
As part of the day, volunteers, staff and clients from A Way Out lit candles and hung memory tags from trees to remember those who have been affected by violence against sex workers, some of whom have even lost their lives.
Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland said: “Reducing violence against women and girls is so important to me, and this includes protecting those involved in sex work, who are particularly vulnerable to violent and sexual crime.
“People can become involved in sex work due to many things including homelessness, child sex abuse, ill health, trauma, previous sexual violence, drug and alcohol misuse and poverty. We must do more to support those in need, and allow them to feel supported. I would encourage anyone who suffers such violence to speak to police or support agencies.”
Specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) for the Tees Valley, Gaynor Trueman, said: “: “People involved in or exploited through sex work are amongst the most vulnerable people in our society, greatly exposed to or at risk of violence, with street workers twelve times more likely to be murdered. This day is to try and highlight this frightening statistic and to ensure that those who are at risk have the same right to protection as anyone else.”
Jane Harmer, Chief Executive Officer of A Way Out said: “We have seen first-hand the effects of this kind of violence, and victims can suffer with psychological and emotional trauma long after physical wounds may have healed. We are deeply aware that violence against sex workers is not only far to prevalent, but so often crimes are unreported and perpetrators are not held to account. This is unacceptable, and we are glad that Cleveland Police is seeking to address this and is working towards ending this violence.
“A Way Out is committed to enabling women we are engaging with to live a healthy, whole and safe life, and so we will stand against these deplorable actions and advocate for the rights of sex workers. Taking the time to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is an important step on a vital journey, and we must continue to take action on this issue.”
Posted on Monday 21st December 2015