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Am J Public Health. 2014 May;104(5):e42-54. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301909. Epub 2014 Mar 13.

A systematic review of the correlates of violence against sex workers.

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Kathleen N. Deering, Putu Duff, Elena Argento, Ariel Nesbitt, and Kate Shannon are with Gender and Sexual Health Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, British Columbia. Kathleen N. Deering and Kate Shannon are also with Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Putu Duff, Ariel Nesbitt, Jean Shoveller, and Kate Shannon are with School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia. Avni Amin and Claudia García-Moreno are with Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


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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