More than half of South Africa's sex workers are rape victims - Study. (Blasting News)

More than half of South Africa’s sex workers are rape victims – Study

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Sexual violence rears its ugly head

A study by the South African Medical Research Council and the Perinatal HIV Research Unit has found out that more than half of sex workers in the country have been victims of rape. 

In the first of its kind study, which sampled 3 000 sexworkers, showed that sex workers in South Africa were extremely vulnerable to violence, mental health problems and, worryingly, signs of HIV drug resistance.

“In the past year, 70.4% of female sex workers experienced physical violence, and 57.9% were raped: by policemen (14.0%), clients (48.3%), other men (30.2%) and/or an intimate partner (31.9%),” the study found. 

Also Read:  Types of sex workers and where to find them

This is the first time evidence has been available from a national sample of sex workers linked to sex worker programmes in 12 sites. The study followed a 2016 pilot in  conducted among female sex workers.

Why sex workers are vulnerable

More than half of South Africa's sex workers are rape victims - Study (tripsavvy)

The study looked at the factors that made sex workers vulnerable to rape and found that food insecurity, childhood trauma, PTSD, depression, using alcohol and drugs, being homeless or staying in a sex work venue, selling sex on the streets, working more days and having entered sex work as a child and been in sex work for longer to be the key factors that engineered the phenomenon.

Dr Jenny Coetzee, the principal investigator of the study, said it had put numbers to the high levels of violence experienced by sex workers and that, because of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, there would likely be an increase in the number of people engaging in “survival-type” sex work.

“It is vital that sex worker programmes are properly resourced, so that they can help protect sex workers from violence … There has been a lot of research showing what needs to be done to help sex workers. Now we need committed resources to protect this vulnerable group of women,” Coetzee said as reported by news24.

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