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The unidentified serial killer known as Jack the Ripper killed at least five sex workers in London in 1888.
The prevalence of violence against prostitutes varies by location.
Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, unwanted sexual comments or advances, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person's sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim.
The risks of sexual abuse are overall lower than the risks of physical abuse.
A study of female prostitutes in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada over the age of 14 who used illicit drugs other than marijuana found that 57% of prostitutes experienced some form of gender-based violence over an 18-month period.
Physical violence is defined by the World Health Organization as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation".Because of the illegality of sex work in many parts of the world, sex workers often have to service clients in discreet and isolated spaces where they are less likely to get caught by the police.