Sex workers call for boycott of 'Grand Theft Auto'

Organization cries foul over players accruing points "for the depiction of rape and murder of prostitutes."

The Grand Theft Auto franchise is getting attacked from all angles.

Joining the ranks of politicians, policemen and attorneys in their crusade to see the game lifted from shelves are the nation's sex workers.

On its Web site, the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, or SWOP, is asking parents to assist them in calling for a boycott of Take-Two Interactive's controversial game.

Citing a 2001 document from the National Institute on Media and the Family's David Walsh, SWOP is calling "on all parents and all gamers to boycott Grand Theft Auto."

The organization quotes various points from Walsh's paper including, "Children are more likely to imitate a character with whom they identify. In violent video games, the player is often required to take the point of view of the shooter or perpetrator."

Although the organization admits to being "adamantly opposed to any and all forms of censorship," it wishes "to inform other parents of the potential danger extremely violent video games pose to children." Likewise, in the interest of promoting the rights of sex workers, the organization is opposed to the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes.

In the games, players can solicit "services" from prostitutes by driving their cars slowly near them. No sexual acts are in clear visible view, but during the "transaction," the player regains health and loses money. Although the player cannot actively rape prostitutes in the game, a possible rape is alluded to once during the story line of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The prostitutes, like every other character, are also subject to homicide at the hands of the protagonist.

According to its Web site, SWOP is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of sex industry workers and to the promotion of a safe working environment for the industry.

Take-Two also faces new legal woes this week over "Grand Theft Auto." According to a Reuters report, two law firms have sued the company on behalf of Take-Two shareholders.

The firms, Milberg Weiss and Stull Stull & Brody, are seeking class action status. Milberg Weiss said in a press release on Monday that Take-Two engaged in fraudulent and illegal conduct during the class period so that insiders could sell more than 661,000 shares for proceeds of more than $18 million.

The class period is from Oct. 25, 2004, the date of the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" launch, to Jan. 27, 2006, the day Los Angeles' city attorney sued Take-Two for selling pornographic video games to children.

A Take-Two spokesman declined to comment.

Take-Two shares, which lost 30 percent of their value in the time frame outlined in the suits, were trading up 12 cents to $15.35 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

Tim Surette reported for GameSpot. Reuters contributed to this report.

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