Sex worker victimization, modes of working, and location in New South Wales, Australia: a geography of victimization

J Sex Res. 2013;50(6):574-86. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2012.668975. Epub 2012 Jun 28.


This article examines the association among victimization, modes of sex working, and the locations used by sex workers through an analysis of "Ugly Mug" reports detailing 528 crime acts in 333 reported incidents in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. These forms, voluntarily lodged between 2000 and 2008 by members of NSW's estimated 10,000 sex worker population, suggest that street-based work has a higher victimization rate than other modes of working, including escort work, work in commercial premises, and private work. Although this ostensibly supports the commonly held view that "outdoor" working is more dangerous than "indoor" work, this analysis suggests that most instances of victimization actually occur in private spaces. Hence, it is argued that risks of victimization in sex work are influenced by a variety of environmental characteristics relating to concealment, control, and isolation, suggesting that not all off-street locations are equally safe. We conclude with recommendations for policy regarding sex work.

MeSH terms

  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Workers / statistics & numerical data*