Sex Workers as Mothers: Correlates of Engagement in Sex Work to Support Children View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2021-05-21

AUTHORS

Danielle Friedman Nestadt, Ju Nyeong Park, Noya Galai, S. W. Beckham, Michele R. Decker, Jessica Zemlak, Susan G. Sherman

ABSTRACT

BackgroundGlobally, most female sex workers (FSWs) are mothers but are rarely considered as such in public health and social service programs and research. We aimed to quantitatively describe FSWs who are mothers and to examine correlates of current engagement in sex work to support children among a cohort of FSWs in Baltimore, Maryland, United States (U.S.).MethodsThe study utilized baseline survey and HIV/STI testing data from the Sex workers And Police Promoting Health In Risky Environments (SAPPHIRE) study of women engaged in street-based sex work in Baltimore, Maryland. Variable selection and interpretation were guided by Connell’s theory of Gender and Power. We used bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to examine correlates of engagement in sex work to support children among FSW mothers.ResultsOur sample included 214 FSWs with children, of whom 27% reported supporting children as a reason for the current engagement in sex work. Median age was 36 years, and mean number of children was 2.88. A total of 20.6% were currently living with any of their minor aged children, and this was significantly more common among mothers engaged in sex work to support children (57.9% vs. 7%; p < 0.001). A total of 38.7% had ever lost legal custody of children, which was significantly less common among those supporting children through sex work (26.8% vs. 42.9%; p = 0.033). In multivariate analyses, the following were independently associated with engaging in sex work to support children: African-American versus white race (aOR = 2.62; 95% CI 1.18–5.82; p = 0.018), less housing instability (aOR = 0.42; 95% CI 0.20–0.89; p = 0.024), initiating sex work at age < 23 (aOR = 2.59; 95% CI 1.23–5.46; p = 0.012), less frequent intoxication during sex with clients (aOR = 0.31; 95% CI 0.14–0.67; p = 0.003), and reporting mental health as most important health concern (aOR = 2.37; 95% CI:1.09–5.17; p = 0.029).ConclusionsFSW mothers who report engagement in sex work to support children are distinct from their counterparts in key areas related to HIV and other health outcomes. Neglecting to account for this important social role may lead to missed opportunities to meaningfully promote physical and mental health and to engage women on their own terms. Future research and interventions should seek to address FSWs as whole social beings and center their experiences and needs as mothers. More... »

PAGES

251-261

References to SciGraph publications

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  • 2018-07-31. Implementing Targeted Sampling: Lessons Learned from Recruiting Female Sex Workers in Baltimore, MD in JOURNAL OF URBAN HEALTH
  • 2012-07-11. Motherhood and HIV Risk Among Female Sex Workers in Andhra Pradesh, India: The Need to Consider Women’s Life Contexts in AIDS AND BEHAVIOR
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    21 schema:description BackgroundGlobally, most female sex workers (FSWs) are mothers but are rarely considered as such in public health and social service programs and research. We aimed to quantitatively describe FSWs who are mothers and to examine correlates of current engagement in sex work to support children among a cohort of FSWs in Baltimore, Maryland, United States (U.S.).MethodsThe study utilized baseline survey and HIV/STI testing data from the Sex workers And Police Promoting Health In Risky Environments (SAPPHIRE) study of women engaged in street-based sex work in Baltimore, Maryland. Variable selection and interpretation were guided by Connell’s theory of Gender and Power. We used bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to examine correlates of engagement in sex work to support children among FSW mothers.ResultsOur sample included 214 FSWs with children, of whom 27% reported supporting children as a reason for the current engagement in sex work. Median age was 36 years, and mean number of children was 2.88. A total of 20.6% were currently living with any of their minor aged children, and this was significantly more common among mothers engaged in sex work to support children (57.9% vs. 7%; p < 0.001). A total of 38.7% had ever lost legal custody of children, which was significantly less common among those supporting children through sex work (26.8% vs. 42.9%; p = 0.033). In multivariate analyses, the following were independently associated with engaging in sex work to support children: African-American versus white race (aOR = 2.62; 95% CI 1.18–5.82; p = 0.018), less housing instability (aOR = 0.42; 95% CI 0.20–0.89; p = 0.024), initiating sex work at age < 23 (aOR = 2.59; 95% CI 1.23–5.46; p = 0.012), less frequent intoxication during sex with clients (aOR = 0.31; 95% CI 0.14–0.67; p = 0.003), and reporting mental health as most important health concern (aOR = 2.37; 95% CI:1.09–5.17; p = 0.029).ConclusionsFSW mothers who report engagement in sex work to support children are distinct from their counterparts in key areas related to HIV and other health outcomes. Neglecting to account for this important social role may lead to missed opportunities to meaningfully promote physical and mental health and to engage women on their own terms. Future research and interventions should seek to address FSWs as whole social beings and center their experiences and needs as mothers.
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    28 schema:keywords Baltimore
    29 Connell's theory
    30 HIV
    31 Maryland
    32 MethodsThe study
    33 ResultsOur sample
    34 United States
    35 age
    36 aged children
    37 analysis
    38 area
    39 baseline survey
    40 being
    41 bivariate
    42 children
    43 clients
    44 cohort
    45 cohort of FSWs
    46 concern
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    49 counterparts
    50 current engagement
    51 custody
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    65 important health concern
    66 important social role
    67 instability
    68 interpretation
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    70 intoxication
    71 key areas
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    74 logistic regression analysis
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    77 minor-aged children
    78 most female sex workers
    79 mothers
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    82 need
    83 number
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    85 opportunities
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    87 own terms
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    89 power
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