09/07/2018 06:04 BST | Updated 09/07/2018 06:04 BST

SA's Sex Workers Face Depression, PTSD - Study

Sex workers face high levels of mental illness, a new study has found.

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Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and violence are just some of the issues facing most sex workers in South Africa, according to a new study. According to Times Select, the Plos One Study, released last week, studied 508 sex workers in Soweto.

The research was reportedly conducted over seven months in an effort to understand the challenges facing sex workers.

According to Times Select, the study showed that:

  • Over 68 percent of the sex workers suffered from severe depression
  • Nearly 40 percent suffered from PTSD
  • 74 percent of the sex workers had not finished school
  • 87 percent had been pregnant and 18 had lost a child
  • Two-thirds of the sex workers went hungry regularly
  • Only 14 percent had never been a victim of violence
  • Over 50 percent were binge-drinkers

The authors reportedly said the study showed the "significant burden" of mental illness among sex workers, and the "burden of vulnerability" born by female sex workers, "who are exposed to poor living and working conditions while being afflicted with a serious burden of mental health conditions".

The authors also reportedly highlighted the "limited availability" of mental health treatment in South Africa, which they said was a neglected public health concern.

Another study, commissioned by Sonke Gender Justice and the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce, reportedly revealed the shocking treatment of sex workers by the police GroundUp reported in March.

Over half the sex workers surveyed reportedly said they had paid a bribed to the police, while many described being raped and beaten by the police. Over 60 percent said they had been arrested but most had never appeared in court.

Most of the sex workers, between 21 and 65 years old, were supporting between three and nine dependents.

The report recommended decriminalisation of sex work, which its authors said would held to prevent harassment by the police and make sex workers less vulnerable to exploitation.

The ANC resolved to decriminalise sex work in December, according to eNCA, in line with recommendations from international bodies like the World Health Organisation.