Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 680–691 | Cite as

Examining the Unique Characteristics of a Non-Probability Sample of Undocumented Female Sex Workers with Dependent Children: The Case of Haitians in the Dominican Republic

  • Christine Tagliaferri Rael
  • Alan Sheinfil
  • Karen Hampanda
  • Alex Carballo-Diéguez
  • Andrea Norcini Pala
  • William BrownIII
Original Paper


Haitians in the Dominican Republic (DR) are increasingly marginalized due to recent legislation that stripped Haitian-Dominicans of their citizenship and increased Haitian migrants’ deportation risk. Haitian female sex workers (FSWs) are particularly vulnerable, though little is known about them. This study will help public health efforts targeted at sex workers to better reach Haitian FSWs and address their needs by identifying a profile of characteristics unique to this group compared to Dominican FSWs. Data were collected in 2014 among Haitian and Dominican FSWs in Puerto Plata, DR. Surveys assessed respondents’ demographics, health consciousness, depression, and stigma. Adjusted logistic regressions showed that Haitian FSWs were disadvantaged: they had significantly lower rates of education, more children, and less permanent income. Furthermore, Haitian FSWs were more likely to work independently and for fewer hours. Interestingly, Haitian FSWs internalized less stigma than Dominicans. Though we can only speculate, this could be due to migration for sex work, or the lack of formal employment for Haitians. Initiatives to alleviate poverty, create formal jobs, and overturn discriminatory legislation may have the most impact for Haitian FSWs.


Undocumented immigrants Sex work Sex workers Haitian Dominican Republic Dominican Migrant Immigrant Depression Health consciousness Stigma 



This project was supported by a Fulbright Program grant sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education. All affiliated research was conducted with the University of Colorado-Denver. The first author is now supported by a Training Grant (T32 MH019139; Principal Investigator, Theodorus Sandfort, Ph.D.) from the National Institute of Mental Health at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the NY State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (P30-MH43520; Center Principal Investigator: Robert Remien, Ph.D.). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health. Data collection support was provided by Maria del Rosario Martínez-Muñoz and Yasmín Soto. Special thanks to CEPROSH and Grupo Clara, who provided the local infrastructure for outreach and study subject recruitment. Research design and project development was supported by the dissertation committee: Drs. David Tracer, Jean Scandlyn, John Brett, and Richard Miech at the University of Colorado-Denver.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Tagliaferri Rael
    • 1
  • Alan Sheinfil
    • 1
  • Karen Hampanda
    • 2
  • Alex Carballo-Diéguez
    • 1
  • Andrea Norcini Pala
    • 1
  • William BrownIII
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Community and Behavioral Health – Colorado School of Public HealthUniversity of Colorado-Anschutz Medical CampusAuroraUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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