US organisation the Sex Workers Outreach Project has issued a statement condemning the way sex workers are represented in Rockstar's GTA: San Andreas - asking parents and gamers to boycott the title.
According to the statement, which was published on the SWOP-USA website, the organisation "will always be adamantly opposed to any and all forms of censorship." However, "As concerned parents ourselves, we wish to inform other parents of the potential danger extremely violent videogames pose to children."
SWOP-USA was established with the aim of improving the lives of sex workers, promoting their safety and campaigning for their rights. The organisation is opposed to "any media which represents sex workers as legitimate targets of violence rape and murder." In GTA, players can kill sex workers, along with many other characters, and the game's storyline refers to the rape of a prostitute.
"Censorship is a blight on the freedoms we hold dear but we wholeheartedly encourage citizens to vote with their dollars by refusing to purchase products which encourage the denigration and destruction of prostitutes," the statement continues.
"Since the video game Grand Theft Auto accrues points to players for the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes, SWOP-USA calls on all parents and all gamers to boycott Grand Theft Auto."
SWOP-USA quotes research commissioned by the National Institute of Media and the Family which claims that three high profile medical institutes have "concluded that the scientific evidence shows a cause-effect relationship between television violence and aggression among the children and youth who watch it."
According to the research, children are almost 10 times more likely to have taken part in a physical fight if they regularly play videogames with violent content. There is said to be "a strong correlation between exposure to violent video games and various forms of antisocial behavior.”