Objectives: To characterize interactions that female sex workers (FSWs) have with the police and explore associations with client-perpetrated violence. Methods: Baseline data were collected April 2016 to January 2017 from 250 FSWs from the Sex Workers and Police Promoting Health in Risky Environments (SAPPHIRE) study based in Baltimore, Maryland. Interviewer-administered questionnaires captured different patrol or enforcement and abusive police encounters, experiences of client-perpetrated violence, and other risk factors, including drug use. We conducted bivariate and multivariable analysis in Stata/SE version 14.2 (StataCorp LP, College Station, TX). Results: Of participants, 78% reported lifetime abusive police encounters, 41% reported daily or weekly encounters of any type. In the previous 3 months, 22% experienced client-perpetrated violence. Heroin users (70% of participants) reported more abusive encounters (2.5 vs 1.6; P<.001) and more client-perpetrated violence (26% vs 12%; P = .02) than others. In multivariable analysis, each additional type of abusive interaction was associated with 1.3 times (95% confidence interval [CI] =1.1, 1.5) increased odds of client-perpetrated violence. For patrol or enforcement encounters, this value was 1.3 (95% CI=1.0, 1.7). Conclusions: Frequent exposures to abusive police practices appear to contribute to an environment where client-perpetrated violence is regularly experienced. For FSWs who inject drugs, police exposure and client-perpetrated violence appear amplified. Public Health Implications. Structural interventions that address police-FSW interactions will help alleviate police's negative impact on FSWs' work environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health