The impact of a microsavings intervention on reducing violence against women engaged in sex work: a randomized controlled study




Tsai, Laura
Carlson, Catherine E.
Aira, Toivgoo
Pala, Andrea Norcini
Riedel, Marion
Witte, Susan S.

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Background Women who engage in sex work are at risk for experiencing violence from numerous perpetrators, including paying partners. Empirical evidence has shown mixed results regarding the impact of participation in microfinance interventions on women’s experiences of violence, with some studies demonstrating reductions in intimate partner violence (IPV) and others showing heightened risk for IPV. The current study reports on the impact of participation in a microsavings intervention on experiences of paying partner violence among women engaged in sex work in Mongolia. Methods Between 2011 and 2013, we conducted a two-arm, non-blinded randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing an HIV/STI risk reduction intervention (HIVSRR) (control condition) to a combined microsavings and HIVSRR intervention (treatment condition). Eligible women (aged 18 or older, reported having engaged in unprotected sex with paying partner in past 90 days, expressed interest in microsavings intervention) were invited to participate. One hundred seven were randomized, including 50 in the control and 57 in the treatment condition. Participants completed assessments at baseline, immediate post-test following HIVSRR, and at 3-months and 6-months after completion of the treatment group intervention. Outcomes for the current study include any violence (physical and/or sexual), sexual violence, and physical violence from paying partners in the past 90 days. Results An intention-to-treat approach was utilized. Linear growth models revealed significant reductions over time in both conditions for any violence (β = −0.867, p < 0.001), physical violence (β = −0.0923, p < 0.001), and sexual violence (β = −1.639, p = 0.001) from paying partners. No significant differences between groups were found for any violence (β = 0.118, p = 0.389), physical violence (β = 0.091, p = 0.792), or sexual violence (β = 0.379, p = 0.114) from paying partners. Conclusions Microsavings participation did not significantly impact women’s risk for paying partner violence. Qualitative research is recommended to understand the cause for reductions in paying partner violence in both study conditions. Trial registration Evaluating a Microfinance Intervention for High Risk Women in Mongolia; NCT01861431; May 20, 2013.



Gender-based violence, Microfinance, Economic empowerment, Randomized controlled trial, Central Asia


Tsai, Laura Cordisco, Catherine E. Carlson, Toivgoo Aira, Andrea Norcini Pala, Marion Riedel, and Susan S. Witte. “The Impact of a Microsavings Intervention on Reducing Violence against Women Engaged in Sex Work: A Randomized Controlled Study.” BMC International Health and Human Rights 16, no. 1 (October 28, 2016): 27.