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Violence in Indoor and Outdoor Prostitution Venues

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 10 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2004 Pages: 126-139
Jody Raphael; Deborah L. Shapiro
Date Published
February 2004
This study determined the prevalence of violence perpetrated by customers, managers, pimps, and intimate partners against 222 women in indoor and outdoor prostitution venues in Chicago, IL.
The research project recruited 12 survivors of prostitution and trained them to administer verbally an extensive questionnaire to the prostitutes. A typical interview lasted approximately 45 minutes. Respondents answered a series of questions about violence associated with each of the prostitution activities in which they had been involved over the past year or longer. The women were asked whether each of 28 acts of violence had occurred and, if so, how often and by whom. Violence was defined to included being bitten, slapped, hair pulled, punched, pinched, kicked, spanked, ripping clothes, having something thrown at them, robbed, cut or stabbed with a knife, burnt with fire, spit on, or threatened with a weapon. Ten questions addressed nonconsensual sexual contact, and 4 questions focused on harassment. The study found that violence occurred in all of the prostitution activities, but differed in frequency and severity. Women who solicited clients outdoors generally reported higher levels of physical violence, but women in indoor venues were often victims of sexual violence and threats with weapons. The perpetrators of violence did not differ substantially across prostitution venues. Overall, customers/tricks were the most frequent perpetrators of violence across all types of prostitution activities. Intimate partners were the next group most likely to perpetrate violence against the women. High levels of certain types of violence in indoor settings, such as rape, threatened rape, and threats with a weapon undermine the popular belief that indoor prostitution reduces violence against prostitutes. Suggestions for further research in this area are offered. 2 tables and 11 references