Whether their work is legal (e.g., nude dancing for tips) or illegal (e.g., giving oral sex in back alleys for $20), sex workers can't generally expect equal protection under the law.
When assaulted, they are treated as if they had asked for it or, at least, "Well, what did you expect, doing what you do?" They expect not to be assaulted, and if they are assaulted, they expect to have exactly the same recourse as someone outside the sex trade.
Those working in the illegal part of the industry fare the worst. They can be arrested in the course of reporting the assault, with the pursuit of the killer taking a back seat (or ignored totally) under the "Well, what did you expect?" excuse.
Sex workers tend to be women, but of course a few male prostitutes are involved, and they suffer worse in some ways because they can expect even sympathy or protection from the police, where even female officers have adapted to a rather macho culture in which men are expected to be able to take care of themselves.
The police may at least feel an impulse to "save" the female sex worker by helping her find a way out of her profession, even if all she really wants is just equal protection under the law. In fact, many women at the higher end prefer sex work. It is the streetcorner hooker who generally might want a way out, not necessarily the $2000/night call girl. The former has to take 'em as they come (no pun intended); the latter is usually pretty safe with a businessman who just wants sex without strings OR trouble.
Would legalizing sex work help? Would legalizing sex work have unintended consequences making the situation worse rather than better?
@Melissa - I agree. Women are their own worst enemy. Women criticizing other women, backstabbing and gossip, drives me crazy. Shallow, stupid women. AND I am a feminist.
Well what did you expect?
That's about half a step away from being a Muslim saying getting raped is the victim's fault.