In a statement made available to newsmen, the organization laments over the widely misunderstanding status about s*x work.
“The illegal status of s*x work in most countries, including Nigeria has not eradicated prostitution. Instead, criminalization has increased s*x workers vulnerability to human rights abuses and created fertile ground for police exploitation, especially of brothel and street-based s*x workers.
“S*x workers deserve the basic respect and protection from violence that each nation owes its citizens. But in many settings, police abuse of s*x workers receives scant public attention despite its entrenched global reality. Street and brothel-based female s*x workers, one of Lagos and Abuja most vulnerable populations, find themselves targeted for arrest by police, and they experience high levels of violence that go unpunished. Current city and law enforcement policies towards s*x workers create a cycle of arrest that does not result in appropriate or long term solutions for the community or s*x workers,” the statement reads in part.
On the challenges s*x workers face, it said: “The challenge that we face as 50 participants from different L.G.As are almost similar. Many of us face violence and discrimination on a regular basis. Regardless of which State or tribe we are from, many of us have experienced being r*ped, verbally, emotionally and physically abused by police, clients and community members.
“There is an unfair discrimination from service providers. S*x workers are not protected or defended by the law when they are exploited and abused. We demand that these violations stop immediately and decisive action is taken against perpetrators.”
The statement further revealed how s*x workers suffer abuse from the Nigerian Police Officers. “Thirty percent of s*x workers interviewed told researchers that they had been threatened with violence by police officers, while 27% actually experienced violence at the hands of police. Reported incidents included officers physically grabbing and kicking, as well as beating them; one incident of r*pe; one woman was stalked by a police officer; and throwing food at one subject. S*xual harassment included handling of body parts; giving women cigarettes in exchange for s*x; and police offering not to arrest s*x workers in exchange for s*xual services.
“Several times the Police have raided our hotels beating, stealing and having s*x with us without protection.”
In a bid to curtail the abuses sex workers suffer from Policemen, the Executive Director of SafeHeaven Development Initiative, Margaret Onah has criticised the method of which Policemen uses to extort money from s*x workers and abuse.