Understanding sexual violence in sex working populations-Law, legal consciousness and legal practice in four countries (2021-2023): Study Protocol v2.5

Jane Scoular, Teela Sanders, Susie Balderston, Gillian Abel, Barbara Brents, Graham Ellison, Nigel Marriott

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    Abstract

    BackgroundGlobally, the most important human rights and public health issue that sex workers face is their experience of high levels of violence (Kinnell, 2006, Kinnell, 2008, Alexander, 1999). Deering's systematic review estimated levels of sexual violence in sex working populations as being between 14% and 54% (Deering et al, 2014).AimsThis international, robust mixed methods study will explore the frequency of sexual violence against sex workers, barriers in criminal justice and the legal consciousness of sex workers regarding their rights and consent. The hypothesis to be tested is that the safety of sex workers from sexual violence is mediated by the differing legal contexts of sex work environments. We will compare experiences across research sites in the context of legalisation (Nevada USA), client criminalisation (Northern Ireland), decriminalisation (New Zealand) and partial criminalisation (England, Scotland and Wales) [henceforth ESW].MethodsAn international survey (n = 1,000) will be translated into several languages, to disaggregate experiences by demographic categories (gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation) and sex work sector (including online, street-based and brothels). Interviews (n = 100) with sex workers, police, prosecutors and service providers will be thematically analysed to explore legal consciousness, why the patterns occur and contextualise the statistical findings. These data will be supplemented with comparative legislative, policy and case analysis. Research study data will be used to compare the social factors and legal norms shaping sex workers experiences of sexual violence, justice and support interventions. Recommendations for a 'best practice' review of legal improvements and support interventions will be produced following completion of the study. Given the sensitive nature of the research, robust ethical and data protection mechanisms are in place. The research has ethical approval from each research site, an Advisory Board and trained, paid peer researchers to assist with data gathering, analysis and dissemination. The study will report findings in 2023/2024.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0283067
    Number of pages18
    JournalPLOS ONE
    Volume18
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 09 Nov 2023

    Keywords

    • Humans
    • Sexual Behavior
    • Consciousness
    • Sex Offenses
    • Female
    • Male
    • Sex Workers
    • Sex Work

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