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Violence against prostitutes especially affects female prostitutes, who are at risk of violent crime, [1] as well as possibly at higher risk of occupational mortality than any other group of women ever studied.

Homicide rate

The homicide rate for female prostitutes was estimated to be 204 per 100,000 [2], which is considerably higher than that for the next riskiest occupations in the United States during a similar period (4 per 100,000 for female liquor store workers and 29 per 100,000 for male taxicab drivers) [3]. However, there are substantial differences in rates of victimization between street prostitutes and indoor prostitutes who work as escorts, call girls, or in brothels and massage parlors [4].

Violent clients, pimps and police officers

Perpetrators include violent clients, pimps, and corrupt law-enforcement officers. Prostitutes themselves often take their clients to out of the way places where they are less likely to be interrupted, which is very convenient for their attackers. Being criminals in most jurisdictions, prostitutes are less likely than the law-abiding to be looked for by police if they disappear, making them favored targets of predators.

According to a study conducted on one hundred and thirty people working as prostitutes in San Francisco , as adults in prostitution, 82% had been physically assaulted, 83% had been threatened with a weapon and 68% had been raped while working as prostitutes. [5]

Licensed brothels

While women who work on the streets are the most likely to be victimized, attacks and even murders on prostitutes have also occurred in licensed brothels. For example, in June 2003, a Thai prostitute was murdered with a knife by a customer in the Pascha brothel in Köln, Germany, she managed to press the alarm button in her room and security personnel caught the perpetrator; in January 2006, in the same brothel, another prostitute was attacked with a knife by a customer, the woman working next-door alerted security and the perpetrator was caught, the victim survived.

Serial killers

Prostitutes (particularly those engaging in street prostitution) are also sometimes the targets of serial killers, who may consider them easy targets, or use the religious and social stigma associated with prostitutes as justification for their murder.

The unidentified serial killer (or killers) known as Jack the Ripper is said to have killed at least five prostitutes in London in 1888.

Gary Ridgway (aka the Green River Killer), confessed to killing 48 prostitutes from 1982 to 1998, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.[6]

Robert Hansen murdered between 15 and 21 prostitutes, near Anchorage, Alaska, between 1980 and 1983.

More recently, Robert Pickton, a Canadian who lived near Vancouver, made headlines after the remains of several missing prostitutes were found buried on his farm. He now stands charged with the murder of 26 Vancouver area women, and is suspected by police of killing at least four more (though no charges have been laid in relation to their murder).

In December 2006, Steve Wright murdered five prostitutes in Ipswich, England (see 2006 Ipswich murder investigation).



  1. Retrieved on 04-26-07
  2. Potterat et al., 2004
  3. Castillo et al., 1994
  4. Weitzer 2000, 2005
  6. Retrieved on 10-27-07


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