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Sex worker attack on homeless woman caught on camera. Locals demand action

A rainy city corner at night with a pedestrian, a red car, and street signs, including one for Shotwell Street.
Shotwell Street is infamous for sex worker activity at night. | Source: Loren Elliott for The Standard

Residents of San Francisco's troubled Shotwell Street are demanding action after seeing footage of a sex worker attacking a homeless woman in broad daylight.

The attack, captured by a concerned neighbor's cellphone, happened Saturday at 4:50 p.m. on Shotwell Street between 20th and 21st streets.

The victim, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said she was sleeping in her minivan parked on the street when two female sex workers opened the door and woke her up.

Two sex workers were seen assaulting a woman after she confronted them about looking into her parked car on Saturday. | Source: Courtesy video

The sex workers said they needed to use the van to apply their makeup. An argument broke out when the victim refused, and she was dragged by her hair out of the van by one of the workers.

A sex worker then threw the victim to the ground and punched her in the back of the head around 10 times before kicking her in the head and ribs, the victim said.

The victim said she is still suffering from neck and jaw pain after the assault and that she would not park in the area again.

"These women are dangerous. They're aggressive," the victim said. "If you ask them to leave, they jump you."

Police confirmed the incident and said officers had arrested a 24-year-old Fairfield woman on suspicion of aggravated assault.

'No consequences'

Shotwell Street resident Ayman Farahat calls on Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Hilary Ronen to install license plate reading cameras in areas where sex work is prevalent. The mayor's office said it has begun installing 400 license plate cameras around at 100 intersections around the city on March 20 but did not say where.

"There's no consequences for bad behavior," Farahat said.

Farahat claims sex workers have always frequented his street since he moved there in 2020, but that the problem got worse when the city erected barricades on Capp Street to stop people looking for sex workers from driving down the street.

Farahat has started a petition to the mayor calling for 16 license plate reading cameras to be installed along Shotwell Street and surrounding streets where sex work is an issue. Farahat claims to have collected 200 signatures so far.

"Our hope is that the license plate readers will send a signal to the criminals engaging in the trafficking of women and girls that they are no longer safe to operate freely in our residential neighborhood," the petition says.

Trevor Chandler, who is running to represent the area as supervisor, said on X Sunday that residents' demands that the city address violence by sex workers have been "regularly ignored."

Ronen, who represents the Mission District, said she is working with police to have more lighting and police to Shotwell Street. She also said she had looked into having bollards similar to those on Capp Street placed along Shotwell six months ago but that the fire department would not allow it due to concerns over having two major roads blocked during an emergency.

Ronen also called for the decriminalization of sex work and having sanctioned areas allowing it away from residential streets.

"We can have safe spaces for women doing that work and keep them away from homes and families," Ronen said. "It's not appropriate to have sex work happening outside when people are trying to sleep or walk home from work."

The Mayor's Office did not respond to requests for comment. The Fire Department was contacted for comment.

The victim said she knew the area was a red-light district when she parked there.

"But it does not give them the right to assault the other people in the territory," she said in a text.