A Systematic Review of the Correlates of Violence Against Sex Workers

Authors: Kathleen N. Deering, PhD, Avni Amin, PhD, Jean Shoveller, PhD, Ariel Nesbitt, MPH, Claudia Garcia-Moreno, MD, MSc, Putu Duff, MSc, Elena Argento, MPH, and Kate Shannon, PhD

A Systematic Review of the Correlates of Violence Against Sex Workers

American Journal of Public Health vol. 104,5 (2014): e42-54. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301909


We conducted a systematic review in June 2012 (updated September 2013) to examine the prevalence and factors shaping sexual or physical violence against sex workers globally.

We identified 1536 (update = 340) unique articles. We included 28 studies, with 14 more contributing to violence prevalence estimates. Lifetime prevalence of any or combined workplace violence ranged from 45% to 75% and over the past year, 32% to 55%. Growing research links contextual factors with violence against sex workers, alongside known interpersonal and individual risks.

This high burden of violence against sex workers globally and large gaps in epidemiological data support the need for research and structural interventions to better document and respond to the contextual factors shaping this violence. Measurement and methodological innovation, in partnership with sex work communities, are critical.

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