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Charity reports 76 attacks on city sex workers.

Byline: Liz Day Reporter liz.day@walesonline.co.uk

A TOTAL of 76 sex workers fell victim to "violent attacks" on the streets of Cardiff last year, according to a sexual abuse charity.

Safer Wales reported the attacks to the police but fears many more incidents are going unreported, as those working in the sex industry are too scared to report them.

The organisation operates a Street Life project, which provides support services to sex workers in the city. As part of the project, the charity reported 76 violent attacks on women working in the sex industry to police last year.

Safer Wales chief executive Barbara Natasegara said: "In reality, the figure of unreported attacks on victims is much higher. Many women feel wary of reporting such crimes to the authorities because they fear the consequences."

The charity has added its voice to the debate about the decriminalisation of prostitution, as human rights group Amnesty International voted on the issue.

On Tuesday, the organisation voted to support the decriminalisation of prostitution at its biennial International Council Meeting. Delegates from around the world gathered in Dublin and voted to adopt a resolution that will allow the organisation to develop a pro-decriminalisation policy.

Ms Natasegara said she "welcomed" the debate, as she believes it has focused attention on prioritising the safety of sex workers, but she disagrees with the decision. She described the debate as "extremely important".

She added: "For the first time, it provides a public platform in which each side of the argument places an emphasis on protecting sex workers from violence and abuse.

"We are all too aware of the dangers faced by these vulnerable women every day, but despite this, we wouldn't support the decriminalisation of prostitution."

The charity believes decriminalisation would result in an increase in the number of victims of human trafficking.

Instead, the charity supports the legislation adopted in Sweden in 1999, which aims to protect sex workers and criminalise those buying sex.

The resolution passed by Amnesty International recommends that the full decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work is supported by the organisation.

The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.

Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: "Sex workers are one of the most marginalised groups in the world who face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse.

"Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape our future work on this important issue.

"We recognise that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards."

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Safer Wales fears there are many more attacks on sex workers than are reported ROB BROWNE

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 13, 2015
Words:480
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