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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Street-based sex work in Russia, as in many countries, carries with it a high risk for violence and the transmission of infectious diseases. The male partners of female sex workers are both cause and recipient of such risks. Because little is known about the men, we undertook a Petersburg sex classifieds study to determine the feasibility of recruiting and interviewing them, develop typologies that describe partners, and derive hypotheses for further study and risk reduction intervention projects.
We were able to conduct open-ended, qualitative interviews with street-based sex workers and, largely through these contacts, their male partners. To these data, we added interviews with social work and medical experts who engage with the sex workers. The text of interviews from 37 respondents were analyzed to identify commonly mentioned partner characteristics in five distinct domains: sociodemographics, behavioral patterns of the partners, motivations in seeking sex services, levels of partner engagement with the sex workers, and the social circumstances that moderate the engagement.
Four of the five domains all but sociodemographics proved useful in identifying typologies that were best described as populated points in a matrix generated from the intersection of the four domains. The data were too limited to specify which of the points in the matrix are most common, but the points populated are useful Petersburg sex classifieds generating hypotheses for further study and in identifying potential avenues for risk reduction interventions.
There are an estimated 2 million young people who inject drugs in Russia United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Accompanying this, official statistics report that the prevalence of HIV more than doubled from perin to in Onishchenko Simultaneously, the percentage of infections attributed to sexual transmission has increased from 2. These risks are found combined in street-based female sex workers sbFSW. High HIV prevalence in this population has been reported in several cities, including estimates of 15 percent in Moscow, 61 percent in Togliatti, and 65 percent in Kaliningrad Lowndes et al.
In St. Petersburg, sbFSW are involved in various health-risk practices that include unprotected sex and injection drug use Benotsch et al. High rates of penetrative sex with clients reported by sex workers and suboptimal rates of condom use are frequently correlated with the highest rates of drug use observed among the most vulnerable street sex workers Aral et al. A study of sbFSW in St. Petersburg revealed that self-reported STI prevalence was These multiple risks place them at the core for epidemic transmission to the general population.
Few studies, however, reveal the extent to which FSW and sbFSW in particular can serve as epidemic bridges to the general population.
In this report, we expand the knowledge base in this area through a qualitative study that focused on typical sets of characteristics of the partners of sbFSW as a foundation for further research. Before presenting the data, a brief introduction into the social and cultural contexts is given. Prior to this work, anecdotal evidence and limited quantitative data have suggested that use of FSW services is not uncommon among heterosexual Petersburg sex classifieds in the general population in Russia.
For example, in a random-digit dial survey of St. Petersburg residents in7 percent of men reported having ever purchased sex from FSW, and half of those men reported having done so more than once Amirkhanian, Kelly, and Issayev Better understanding of risk behaviors among FSW is important in informing the social, political, and public health responses to the epidemics of HIV and injection drug use. One such approach is detailed below. During the Tsarist era, prostitution was legal and under police and health department regulation Golosenko Brothels officially functioned until the Bolshevik revolution ofoperating with assistance from the state to provide certain health control measures.
Within the course of the 20th century, Russia experienced state collapse twice and passed through one civil and two world wars. The combination of poverty, social inequality, totalitarian social order, and wars experienced by most Russians has created a specific Russian culture and mentality characterized by intolerance Gilinskiy This presents itself in specific attitudes, behavioral patterns, and social adaptations as people respond to challenging life conditions. In terms of sexual behavior, there has been a doubly reinforcing moral public attitude towards the prostitution Petersburg sex classifieds ; Sawyer and Metz consisting of intolerance and stigma that contributes ificantly to keeping the issue and associated social problems out of the public eye Afanasiev and Skorobogatov This, in turn, makes both populations of FSW and their partners vulnerable to various risks and hard to reach for researchers.
In the USSR, there could be no official recognition of prostitution since such activity was strictly associated in the Soviet propaganda with the capitalist social structure and bourgeois morals. Despite a gap in social research from the Soviet era, there is evidence amassed from other sources that prostitution was widespread even during Communist rule and was organized to meet discrete consumption patterns Kon There appeared to be several main types of clients, closely associated with locations of concentrated demand: native visitors work-related travelers staying at hotelsforeign travelers special hotels for the international tourists existedmen willing to pay for sex with marginalized women e.
The scant data published on the issue nonetheless reflect the great variety, the discrete and even polarized types of sex workers and their clients, and the low likelihood that FSW who served these groups would interconnect.
The issue of prostitution was first raised for open discussion only inimmediately after Perestroika was announced. The research implemented by Afanasiev and Skorobogatov in St. Aral et al. The social, Petersburg sex classifieds, and economic transitions in post-Soviet Russia were accompanied by rapid increases on the supply side for sex work Gal and Kligman ; Occhipinti This was also associated with age in that 33 percent of younger people, 21 percent of middle aged people, but only 7 percent of seniors reporting knowing such people Database of Public Opinion Foundation Much of the research conducted within the last decade describes a profusion of different types of prostitution with women working in a variety of locations, including railway stations, truck stops, streets, brothels, massage parlors, saunas, and hotels Aral et al.
Given the difficulty in exploring risk behaviors among this hidden population, this study was conceived to provide better understanding of who comprise this sub-population and how best to recruit them into further research. As a basis for systematic prevention research and targeted interventions, we first need to characterize the type of men who are having sex with sbFSW in St.
These are defined not just by how the client is related to the sbFSW, but also how, as types, each fits into the general social organization of contemporary Russian life. In creating such a typology, we analyze data collected from a qualitative study of sbFSW, their partners, and the professionals who interact with them to generate a model of discrete typologies that can then be used to frame more detailed work on the structures of commercial sex work and the transmission of Petersburg sex classifieds between the sbFSW and their sex partners.
Based on formative studies conducted by members of the research team, semi-structured interview guides were deed and tailored for sbFSW, their partners, and key informants. The interview guides were deed to systematically investigate the interaction of sbFSW and their partners.
The interview guide was structured to provide adequate latitude for interviewers to elicit perceptions, understandings, and experiences in domains of particular interest that included personal background, sex partners, relationship characteristics, sexual behaviors and condom use, alcohol and drug use, experiences with legal and health professionals, and potential strategies for recruiting partners into future studies and prevention interventions.
Guides were pilot tested, and modifications and continuing training of interviewers was provided following review of initial interviews in each category of informant. The Department provides regular educational and support services to the sex worker community using a bus to bring teams of outreach workers to street locations where sbFSW congregate.
The sbFSW were recruited from their workplaces during outreach activities. Male partners were recruited through sbFSW, peer referrals, and through doctors involved in Stellit projects. Interviews were conducted by Stellit staff whose training in qualitative interviewing techniques was supplemented through the pilot testing process. We conducted 37 semi-structured qualitative interviews with 14 sbFSW referred to below as SW14 client or non-client male partners MPand 9 key informants including 3 policemen, 3 social workers, 2 physicians, and 1 epidemiologist referred to as Experts.
Key informant experts were interviewed in their place of work. All interviews were digitally recorded and lasted on average minutes. Petersburg State University. Interview transcripts in Russian were read by the first author, who coded the texts manually and entered related texts into an Excel database that was used to develop a coding tree to organize the content of interviews. The analysis was based on the principles of grounded theory, using the constant comparative method of qualitative analysis Glaser and Strauss ; Strauss and Corbin Data were broadly categorized into five major domains: sociodemographic characteristics, factors motivating seeking of commercial sex services, patterns of client behavior, situational modulators of service seeking, and levels of emotional engagement between clients and sbFSW.
In an iterative process, the coding tree was used to identify the variety within each domain, allowing combinations of characteristics or factors in several to become apparent as common patterns of association. In the section below, individual responses are indented and all Petersburg sex classifieds quotes are indicated with italics.
Descriptions of the sociodemographic characteristics of both clients and non-client sex partners were broad, generalized, and not particularly helpful in elaborating a typology. All sbFSW were native Russian with a median age of The descriptions of men who have sex with sbFSW given by all the respondents were very general and did not emphasize any social-demographic characteristic as more likely associated with the consumption of sex services.
Some differences appeared through their individual experiences and perceptions, but while these descriptions offered a few hints, none of the obvious categorization schemes identified the population groups more likely to engage in transactional sex. Five sociodemographic were mentioned by informants: age, ethnicity, profession, income, and marital status. A few examples from the descriptions about the age of clients show that the experiences of informants are too broad for simple characterization. Most are men years old. A range of characteristics beyond demographic attributes were reported by respondents in their descriptions of sexual partners of sbFSW in St.
Four primary domains emerged from the interviews: motivations motives associated by respondents with the interaction with the sbFSWmoderators circumstances respondents mention that accompany the intention or the consumption of sex servicesbehavior patterns most typical or recognizable models or sets of behavior Petersburg sex classifieds men towards sbFSWengagement the combination of emotional and practical connections a man has with the sbFSW.
Several drivers of individual behavior were mentioned that were associated with recreational needs such as sexual relaxation physical needcoping strategy the need to decrease stressand social and recreational practice the need to relax. The data suggest that in some cases a sbFSW may play a role as a means for a man to satisfy his need for shared experiences with a companion, such as relaxed conversation or sharing leisure time in which sex might not play the key role.
As in many other countries, men beginning their sexual life were frequently clients of FSW. In Russia, this has long been the case. Infor example, 42 percent of male students started their sex life with commercial sex; in andit was 28 percent and 14 percent, respectively, suggesting the impact of the Soviet Revolution on sexual mores Golod Despite an obvious change in sexual initiation related to the evolution of gender roles and sexual norms over the past two decades, there is evidence that commercial sex not uncommonly provides some men with their initial sexual experiences today.
It is important to mention the opposite as well: that in search of the psychological support, partners may act aggressively as a compensation for their psychological needs in relatively manageable context.
Most respondents mentioned risks of sexual violence associated with sexual addictions and deviant appetites in men having relationships with the sbFSW in St. These data are consistent with other recent research Ilinawhere in an anonymous survey, clients of SbFSW often perceived of them as a potential route to realize their sadistic impulses, in part at least because a sbFSW cannot complain to authorities and is limited in her ability to protest.
Five moderators, circumstances that accompany the intention to consume or the actual consumption of sex services, include two related pairs, one involving drugs and alcohol and one involving group dynamics, and also the recognition that of all female sex workers, sbFSW were the most easily accessible.
It has been repeatedly shown Morrison, McGee, and Rubin that alcohol and drug use are closely connected with risky sexual behavior, including intimate contacts with sbFSW. Almost every sbFSW mentioned the consumption of alcohol by their commercial partners. Clients do not often quit [drinking] before intercourse, even in cases when they have to drive. Likely, they drink first and sexual desire is the result.Petersburg sex classifieds
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