Reducing Violence for Women in Street Prostitution

Changing policies and paradigms to address public health challenges around women in street prostitution in Milwaukee

Full Project Name:Municipal Diversion Policy to Reduce Violence Experienced by Women in Street ProstitutionPrimary Community Organization:Benedict CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Staci Young, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$250,000
Award Date
January2015
Project Duration:27 months

Project Description Narrative:


Research has shown that women engaged in street prostitution face high levels of violence, drug addiction, trauma, sexually transmitted diseases, and extremely high rates of victimization. Designed to address public health and public safety, increase awareness and support, and ensure the availability of compassionate and supportive services for the target population, project partners sought to drive a paradigm and policy shift around supporting the health of women engaged in street prostitution. Project partners aim to develop a public health-centered harm-reduction policy that promotes treatment, housing and employment instead of arrest, fines and incarceration.

Community partners:

Benedict Center (Primary Partner), Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, Milwaukee Police Department

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Documented a shift in social norms, identifying through community awareness efforts that 82% of community members in impacted neighborhoods preferred treatment to arrest

• Three organizations, including the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee District Attorney's Office, have adopted formal policy changes that work to divert women in street prostitution to services instead of arrest

• Leveraged over $600,000 in funding from other sources

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