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Int J STD AIDS. 2012 Aug;23(8):533-9. doi: 10.1258/ijsa.2011.011069.

Sexual coercion prior to imprisonment: prevalence, demographic and behavioural correlates.

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National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth WA, USA.


Little is known about experiences of sexual coercion among prisoners prior to incarceration. Prisoner populations are routinely excluded from national surveys of sexual health which also tend to under-represent marginalized groups. We surveyed 2351 randomly selected men and women, aged 18-64 years, in New South Wales and Queensland prisons who participated in a computer-assisted telephone interview. Around 60% of women and 14% of men self-reported having been sexually coerced prior to incarceration, with 60% of these experiences occurring before the age of 16 years. Factors independently associated with a self-reported history of sexual coercion were: homosexual and bisexual identity, being unable to work, separated marital status, higher level of education (among women), having been paid for sex, a past sexually transmissible infection (among men), drug use (among women) and a history of mental health problems. Prior sexual coercion was associated with unwanted sexual contact and physical assault while in prison. The high prevalence of sexual coercion reported by prisoners and its association with a range of factors indicates a need for a greater acknowledgement of the potential consequences of this within the criminal justice system. This could entail providing counselling and support services within the correctional setting.

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