Mapping and Population Size Estimates of Sex Workers: Proceed with Extreme Caution


This policy brief is an overview and critique of mapping, population size estimates and unique identifier codes and how they are used. The practices of mapping the places where sex workers live and work, and creating population size estimates, are becoming more routine. Some of the threats associated with these practices, and the strategies that are used to keep people safe and data confidential and secure, are discussed. A Community Guide is also available.

Contents include:

  • Introduction
  • Definitions
  • Mapping and population size estimates
  • What are they used for
  • Unique identifier codes
  • Threats to safety, confidentiality and well-being
  • Overreliance on statistics
  • Application of methodologies independently of social, political and legal context
  • Keeping people safe and data secured
  • Recommendations
  • Conclusion

This policy brief can be used by community-based organisations, programmers and epidemiologists, sex-worker led organisations and other researchers to study different mapping methods and their risks, as well as to improve their own research practices.

You can download the 17-page PDF above. This resource is available in English, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian.