At least six Canberra sex workers have been the subject of targeted attacks by groups of men, including aggressive sexual assaults and robberies, some at knifepoint, according to ACT Policing.
ACT Policing’s Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team (SACAT) is conducting extensive investigations into a number of reports of violent sexual assaults against female sex workers within the ACT.
Operation Sparren commenced in August this year following several reports of female sex workers being victims of assaults and robberies.
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Investigators have since conducted extensive enquiries into these allegations, and believe there have been six incidents where the same group of alleged offenders are targeting sex workers.
Police understand that the men, operating in groups of two or three, make an individual appointment with a female sex worker. Initial contact is made with the sex worker through on-line advertising. During this appointment, a male will attended the location of the sex worker and then will allow at least one other man into the location.
It is reported that women have been aggressively sexually assaulted by the group of men, sometimes at knifepoint. Some of the women have also been robbed at knifepoint.
Two of the men in this group are described as Middle Eastern or Indian in appearance and the third male is described as African in appearance.
Detective Sergeant David Crowe of SACAT said that police believe there may be other victims who have yet to come forward and report sexual assault or robbery incidents.
“Police recognise the emotional hardship and courage involved in coming forward if you are a victim of a sexual assault,” he said.
“Let me reassure victims that Operation Sparren provides the appropriate avenue to do so, victim’s privacy is respected and upheld throughout the entirety of the process.
“Police are here to help. We will provide appropriate support services and can provide translators if English is not your first language.”
If victims are uncomfortable speaking with police, victims are encouraged to contact the Sex Workers Outreach Program.
Police are urging victims or anyone who has any information about this group to contact police on 131 444 or report via CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000. Please quote reference Operation Sparren.