Female sex workers and police violence during the Covid-19 health crisis in 2020–2021: results from the EPIC multi-country community-based research program in Argentina - Inserm - Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale Access content directly
Journal Articles Harm Reduction Journal Year : 2022

Female sex workers and police violence during the Covid-19 health crisis in 2020–2021: results from the EPIC multi-country community-based research program in Argentina

Abstract

Background: Female sex workers (FSW) have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Data show increases of police violence toward key populations (KP), likely a consequence of their role in enforcing health government measures. This study aimed to identify factors associated with police violence experienced by FSW during the Covid-19 crisis in Argentina. Methods: EPIC is a multi-country, cross-sectional, community-based research program evaluating the impact of Covid-19 among KP. In Argentina, the study was conducted in collaboration with FSW community-based organizations (CBO). Participants completed an online survey (October 2020-April 2021). Police violence was measured as having experienced episodes of violence (physical, verbal, psychological or sexual) by security forces since the start of the health crisis. Factors associated with police violence were assessed in logistic regression models. Results: Among 173 respondents, median age was 34 [IQR 27-42], 39.3% were transgender women (TW), 78.1% declared sex work as their only income and 71.7% mentioned their financial situation has deteriorated with the health crisis. Nearly half of FSW (44.5%) reported experiencing police violence within the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, and among them, 76.6% declared more frequent violence episodes since the beginning of the health crisis. After adjustment for age, being a TW (aOR [95% CI] = 2.71 [1.21;6.05]), reporting non-injection drug use (2.92 [1.02;8.36]), having a considerably deteriorated financial situation (3.67 [1.47;9.21]), having had a consultation with a CBO worker for medical care/treatments (5.56 [2.15;14.37]) and declaring fear or experiences of discrimination by physicians/other health workers (2.97 [1.21;7.29]), since the beginning of the Covid-19 health crisis, were independently associated with police violence. Conclusions: FSW in Argentina have experienced an increase in police violence since the beginning of the health crisis. Belonging to multiple KP (FSW, TW, people who use drugs) increases the likelihood of experiencing police violence, highlighting the need of an intersectional approach to develop interventions to reduce stigma and violence against FSW. CBOs have provided essential support and services during the crisis to FSWs, and other KPs, who may have avoided traditional healthcare structures due to fear or experiences of discrimination.
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Dates and versions

inserm-04051719 , version 1 (30-03-2023)

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I. Aristegui, J. Castro Avila, V. Villes, R M Delabre, G. Orellano, et al.. Female sex workers and police violence during the Covid-19 health crisis in 2020–2021: results from the EPIC multi-country community-based research program in Argentina. Harm Reduction Journal, 2022, 19 (1), pp.139. ⟨10.1186/s12954-022-00714-5⟩. ⟨inserm-04051719⟩
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