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Am J Public Health. 2009 Jul;99(7):1239-46. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.149930. Epub 2009 May 14.

Suicidal behavior among female sex workers in Goa, India: the silent epidemic.

Author information

1
Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, University College London, 3rd floor Mortimer Market Centre, off Caper St, London WC1E 6AU UK. bamaryjoon@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We sought to study suicidal behavior prevalence and its association with social and gender disadvantage, sex work, and health factors among female sex workers in Goa, India.

METHODS:

Using respondent-driven sampling, we recruited 326 sex workers in Goa for an interviewer-administered questionnaire regarding self-harming behaviors, sociodemographics, sex work, gender disadvantage, and health. Participants were tested for sexually transmitted infections. We used multivariate analysis to define suicide attempt determinants.

RESULTS:

Nineteen percent of sex workers in the sample reported attempted suicide in the past 3 months. Attempts were independently associated with intimate partner violence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.70; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.38, 5.28), violence from others (AOR = 2.26; 95% CI = 1.15, 4.45), entrapment (AOR = 2.76; 95% CI = 1.11, 6.83), regular customers (AOR = 3.20; 95% CI = 1.61, 6.35), and worsening mental health (AOR = 1.05; 95% CI = 1.01, 1.11). Lower suicide attempt likelihood was associated with Kannad ethnicity, HIV prevention services, and having a child.

CONCLUSIONS:

Suicidal behaviors among sex workers were common and associated with gender disadvantage and poor mental health. India's widespread HIV-prevention programs for sex workers provide an opportunity for community-based interventions against gender-based violence and for mental health services delivery.

PMID:
19443819
PMCID:
PMC2696657
DOI:
10.2105/AJPH.2008.149930
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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