More violence, sexual infections when sex work is criminalized, study finds

Sex workers experience a three times higher chance of sexual or physical violence in repressive police environments.

(CNN)Sex workers across 33 countries who face repressive policing -- identified as arrest, imprisonment, confiscation of needles, syringes, condoms, displacement to new area or physical or sexual violence by officers -- have a three times higher chance of experiencing physical or sexual violence, according to a new study.

They were twice as likely to have HIV and other sexual transmitted diseases than sex workers who were not exposed to repressive police violence and abuse of power. The group facing repressive policing was also more likely to have poorer mental health, reports the study, published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Lucy Platt, the lead researcher and an associate professor in public health epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that "repressive police practices increase harms" for sex workers. The paper also states that policy reform is needed to improve sex workers' safety.
    Peter Greenhouse, spokesman and sexual health consultant for the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, agreed. "This new comprehensive research definitively proves what we've known for many years," Greenhouse, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email. "That repressive policing against sex workers increases violence against women and reduces access to sexual health care."
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