Violence against sex workers down - study

More than half of South African sex workers have endured some form of violence, the study found.

Sex workers and members of SWEAT demonstrate against alleged harassment by police outside the Cape Town High Court on 5 March 2009. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

CAPE TOWN - More than half of South African sex workers have endured some form of violence at the hands of clients and police in the past year, a study revealed on Friday.

The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) made the revelations during Parliament's joint committee meeting on HIV/Aids in Cape Town.

The group also revealed that nearly 60 percent of sex workers are infected with HIV.

Sweat has been lobbying for the decriminalisation of sex work for several years now.

The group's Maria Stacey said they interviewed more than 1,100 workers in 2012.

"We were quite surprised because we knew of the high levels of violence. But in the last year, I think it was about 54 percent that said they experienced physical violence, so that was actually less than we anticipated."

Stacey added that many sex workers struggled to access proper healthcare.

According to a survey published in 2010, around five percent of sex workers have access to HIV prevention services.