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Interpersonal and Structural Contexts of Intimate Partner Violence Among Female Sex Workers in Conflict-Affected Northern Uganda

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most prevalent form of violence against women, yet remains under-researched among sex workers in sub-Saharan Africa. We explored the interpersonal and structural determinants of recent IPV among female sex workers in northern Uganda. This analysis drew on data from a community-based cross-sectional study (conducted May 2011–January 2012), involving 379 female sex workers in Gulu, northern Uganda. Using logistic regression and multivariable modeling, we examined the correlates of recent male-perpetrated physical or sexual IPV. Of 379 women with noncommercial partners, 59 percent reported having experienced recent moderate/severe physical or sexual IPV. Reporting recent client violence (adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 3.67; 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 2.31–5.83), doing what their partner wanted (AOR: 2.46; 95 percent CI: 1.46–4.13), and forced sexual debut (AOR: 1.92; 95 percent CI: 1.20–3.05) were independently associated with moderate/severe IPV; recent police arrest and/or incarceration were/was marginally significantly associated with IPV (AOR: 2.25; 95 percent CI: 0.86–5.88, p = 0.097). Greater odds of IPV among sex workers were associated with recent workplace violence, forced sexual debut, and gendered power dynamics favoring male partner control. Programs and policies promoting the safety and health of marginalized women and addressing gender dynamics and violence are needed.
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