Safety Tips for Street Sex Work

From Sex Workers Without Borders

BY ANNIE BANDES and MARTHA ARROYO

Martha Arroyo works at Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center. Annie Bandes is the Womens Program coordinator at the same Agency in New York, and the hardest working man in show business…

SIZE UP THE SITUATION

Listen to his voice, observe body language. Listen to your instinct, if it doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it isn’t.

Make sure the client is alone. Getting into a car with more than one person, increases your risks Check behind the back seat to make sure that no one is hiding.

Check the car. Always check door handles before you get in to make sure they work. Make sure you know how to unlock the door before entering car. Avoid vans.

Get the money first.

Check address. If client says he’s taking you to one place, but pulls up at another, this may not be all he’s lying about. Unless it’s a regular, avoid bridges and tunnels.

USE A BUDDY SYSTEM

Have a friend or co-worker write down the license plate number of the car before you drive off in it. Do the same when someone else goes off with a client.

If no one you know is around, ACT AS IF! Call to the nearest passerby something in the vein of “See you at such and such, at such and such time”. Anything to let client know that you will be missed and have been witnessed leaving with them. Talking into cell phone, even if not operating, can lend to the impression that you are ‘connected’. If working from a regular spot, make sure someone sees you both go in, so they can make sure you both come out.

Share information with your co-workers. If you have had a bad experience with a client pass their details on to co-workers. Describe the car, his rap, anything that will help others avoid going off with him.

Share information with us at the needle exchange, so that we can put a ‘Creep Sheet’ out on him, so that we can inform others.

Consider reporting incident to the police. Some police are sympathetic and will do all they can to help get this person off the streets and prevent them from harming someone else. Remember: an assault is an assault, whether you live in the White House or you don’t even have a house.

HEALTH

Try to use a latex/polyurethane condom for each sexual act, to prevent STDs and HIV. For oral sex try a non-lubricated or flavored condom.

Vaginal/anal sex, use a lubricated condom, and as much lube as possible, to reduce “trauma and abrasions”, which means harm to your vagina or anus. It’s especially important to protect yourself from secondary/re-infection with HIV if you are immune compromised from HIV or Hepatitis C. Obviously, condoms also prevent pregnancy!

If you are really high or really sick, you may find yourself agreeing to do things you normally wouldn’t when you negotiate terms with a client. Try to get straight before your date.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Wear shoes that you can run in.

Necklaces, scarves, key chains, anything around neck is dangerous (it can be used to strangle or drag you).
Hygiene. If at all possible, try to wash between dates. If water is not available, non-alcohol towelettes are good.

Get yourself checked as often as possible (at least every six months). If you need help accessing GYN care, contact your local needle exchange. More and more programs are working with working women!

TAKING CHARGE

Get the money first, and again listen to you heart and instincts.

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