AN ongoing study has revealed that 60 per cent of sex workers in the country are exposed to multiple physical and psychological abuse.
The study conducted by the Pacific Counselling and Social Services (PCSS) Fiji revealed that given the relative taboo nature of sex work in the Pacific Islands, it was not surprising that sex workers in Fiji faced barriers to accessing adequate and effective health care.
Presented by PCSS research and community development mentor, Kate Saxton, the survey involved one on one interviews with female and transgender sex workers during the organisation's outreach work in Nadi, Suva and Labasa.
The group also interviewed 12 sex workers in Lautoka for the study.
According to Ms Saxton, preliminary results suggested that 60 per cent of the sex workers interviewed have been exposed to violence while nearly 20 per cent confirmed that they had been raped.
The study also showed that those who had been engaged in sex work for over five years displayed good knowledge of sexually transmitted infections and were more likely to report being in good physical health.
"Those who had been working in the industry for less than two years reported issues with anxiety, depression, anger management and substance abuse.
"In addition, they were less likely to use condoms, had limited knowledge of where to go for HIV testing and were less likely to access treatment for symptoms of STIs or physical violence." The survey results will be available later this year.