Police-related correlates of client-perpetrated violence among female sex workers in Baltimore City, Maryland

Katherine Footer, Ju Nyeong Park, Sean T. Allen, Michele R. Decker, Bradley E. Silberzahn, Steve Huettner, Noya Galai, Susan G. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Police-related correlates of client-perpetrated violence among female sex workers in Baltimore City, Maryland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this