During 1999 three female researchers (SC, MB, and Catherine Benso) contacted 240 female prostitutes; 115 worked outdoors (40 in Leeds, 75 in Glasgow) and 125 worked indoors in saunas or flats (50 in Leeds, 75 in Edinburgh). We designed a structured questionnaire using previously validated measures to record personal characteristics, working patterns, drug and alcohol use (in the past six months), type and frequency of violence by clients (ever or in the past six months), and levels of attack reported to police. We contacted 156 (65%) prostitutes in their place of work and 84 (35%) through drop-in centres. We used SPSS to test for significance, and multivariate binary logistic regression analysis to identify variables most strongly associated with violence experienced ever or in the past six months.
The table shows that prostitutes working outdoors were younger, involved in prostitution at an earlier age, reported more illegal drug use, and experienced significantly more violence from their clients than those working indoors (81% (93 of 115) v 48% (60 of 125), χ2=29.2, df=1, P<0.0001). Prostitutes working outdoors most frequently reported being slapped, punched, or kicked, whereas prostitutes working indoors cited attempted rape. Multiple logistic regression showed that working outdoors rather than indoors was associated with higher levels of violence by clients than was the city, drug use, and duration of, or age that women began, prostitution. Prostitutes working outdoors in Glasgow were six times more likely to have experienced recent violence by clients than those working indoors in Edinburgh. Only 34% (52/153) of prostitutes who had experienced violence by clients reported it to the police, and this was reported more often by prostitutes working outdoors than indoors (44% (41of 93) v 18% (11 of 60), χ2=10.4, df=1, P<0.0012).