"What makes you think you have special privileges because you are a police officer?" A qualitative exploration of police's role in the risk environment of female sex workers

Susan G. Sherman, Katherine Footer, Samantha Illangasekare, Erin Clark, Erin Pearson, Michele R. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Worldwide, female sex workers (FSWs) have high rates of HIV. Many factors that escalate their risk lay outside of their control, primarily in the environments in which they practice sex. An understudied yet powerful risk environment is that of police. We qualitatively explored sex workers' interactions with police in their personal and professional lives. Thirty-five FSWs were purposively sampled in Baltimore, MD, in 2012. Women discussed experiences of police verbal harassment, sexual exploitation, extortion, and a lack of police responsiveness to 911 calls in emergencies, largely partner violence. Women's mistrust of police was often developed at an early age and further reinforced by interactions in their personal and professional lives. The study underscores the need for targeting police in reducing sex workers' HIV and other risks. The case for police's role in generating risk is evident, which could be addressed through structural interventions targeting both police practices and policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

Keywords

  • Female sex workers
  • HIV
  • Police
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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