Violence by Clients against Street-Level Sex Workers: Applying Situational Crime Prevention Strategies

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Street-level sex workers are at high risk of violence. In Canada, a total of 161 sex workers have been murdered from 1991 to 2012 due to their engagement in sex work. Close to 70% of these homicides occurred in western Canada (Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey, personal communication, May 6, 2014). Although most interactions between sex workers and their clients tend to be non-violent in nature, research indicates that the majority of the violence against sex workers is committed by their clients. This paper provides an overview of the violence perpetrated by clients against street-level sex workers primarily focusing on British Columbia. By applying the situational crime prevention framework to this problem, this paper reveals the potential in addressing the opportunistic nature of the violence to reduce the risk of violence to street-level sex workers. This paper concludes with strategies to address the situational factors contributing to the violence that can be applied in both street and unsanctioned indoor venues by the broader community, indoor management, and sex workers.
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