In an attempt to bridge that gap, the head of Hutt Valley Police’s adult sexual assault team, Detective Sergeant Haley Ryan, helped form a working group linking all the agencies together.
Ryan hoped coming together “for a common purpose” would lead sex workers to feel more able to report sexual violence and have greater confidence their complaints would be fully investigated.
Among the agencies around the table were Wellington Sexual Abuse Help Foundation, Rape Crisis and Mosaic – a group supporting male survivors of sexual abuse.
Ryan said the underlying message to those in the sex business was clear – we will listen and we can help.
“We will treat them with empathy and with dignity,” Ryan said. “Our ultimate goal is for sex workers to be able to work within their profession safely without a threat of sexual assault.