The findings in this report highlight the gap between the rights enshrined in the South African Constitution and treatment meted out to sex workers. Even under the present, imperfect law, there is a stark contradiction between the actions of police and the due process laid out by the law for them to follow. Based on the complaints of 308 sex workers, the WLC found the following:
Almost one in six of the sex workers who approached the WLC had been sexually or physically assaulted, and one in three had been harassed, by the police;
Of the 45 percent of sex workers that had been arrested, more than 85 percent of those arrests had been carried out by a police officer who was not wearing proper identification;
Almost half of those who had been arrested were held beyond the 48 hour maximum permitted by law, and nearly 70 percent had been denied access to food or water whilst in detention;
Almost half of all sex workers who were arrested and 40 percent of sex workers who were fined, reported that police did not follow the formal procedure required; and
Almost half of all sex workers who were arrested reported being placed in cells that were dirty, wet and smelled bad, that had toilets that did not work, and/or mattresses and blankets that were dirty.