INTERACTIONS WITH POLICE

Multiple studies found police practices increase violence against women who sell sex on the street as well as increase rates of HIV and STDs 1,2

  1. Plat, L., et al. “Associations between sex work laws and sex workers’ health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies.” PLOS Medicine. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002680

  2. Shannon et al. “A Systematic Review of the Correlates of Violence Against Sex Workers.” American Journal of Public Health. 2014. 104; (5)

HOW POLICE INCREASE RISK OF VIOLENCE

When a man in a car stops to talk to a woman on the street who is selling sex, the woman must lean over to the car and talk to the man through either the drivers-side or passenger-side window. If this action is witnessed by a police officer in an area known for the sex trade, it can serve as enough probable cause to detain the woman for solicitation. 

Because women selling sex on the street need to avoid being seen by police: 1

  • 55% rushed negotiations with clients

  • 22% moved to an unfamiliar place to work

  • 35% avoided carrying condoms (which in some cities is used as proof of prostitution when found in a woman’s possession)

  1. Fehrenbacher, A., et al. “Exposure to Police and Client Violence Among Incarcerated Female Sex Workers in Baltimore City, Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health. 2020. 110(51)

NUMBER OF ARRESTS
  • 63-82% of women who sell sex have been arrested 1,2

  • 15 — Average number of times women who sell sex have been arrested 1

  • 33-46% arrested for selling sex 1,2

  • 50-65% for drug offenses 1,2

  1. Fehrenbacher, A., et al. “Exposure to Police and Client Violence Among Incarcerated Female Sex Workers in Baltimore City, Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health. 2020. 110(51) [82% arrested; 33 for selling sex; 65% for drug offenses]

  2. Finn M., Muftić L., and Marsh E. “Exploring the Overlap between Victimization and Offending among Women in Sex Work.” Victims & Offenders. 2014 Sept;10(1):74-94 [of 38 women in the sex industry, 63% were arrested, 70.8% arrested more than once; 50% drug-related offenses; 45.8% for prostitution; 70.8% were detained after arrest]

OTHER CONTACT WITH POLICE
  • 52% have been verbally harassed, bullied or intimidated by police in last year 1

  • 18-21% have had sex with police out of fear of being arrested 1,2

  • 38% have ever been assaulted by police either physically or sexually in their lifetime 1

  • 17-21% have had police as paying clients 1,2

  • 22% have had their personal property damaged by police in the last year 1

  1. Fehrenbacher, A., et al. “Exposure to Police and Client Violence Among Incarcerated Female Sex Workers in Baltimore City, Maryland.” American Journal of Public Health. 2020. 110(51) [18% have had sex with police in the last three months out of fear of being arrested; 17% have had police officers as paying customers]

  2. Finn M., Muftić L., and Marsh E. “Exploring the Overlap between Victimization and Offending among Women in Sex Work.” Victims & Offenders. 2014 Sept;10(1):74-94 [of 38 women in the sex industry, 21.1% has police as customers; 20.8% said police had blackmailed them or demanded sex in exchange for lenient treatment]