International AIDS Society


Strategizing peer pressure in enhancing safer sex practices in brothel setting

M K Dutta, D Mandal, S Jana, P Singh


A primary prevention programme was launched targeting about 5000 female sex workers in Sonagachi brothel, Kolkata, India, Following a baseline study in the year 1992. The project took a special initiative to mobilize sex workers in order to create a social environment for safer sex practices.


The entire red-light district was divided into 25 administrative zones. A team of two peer workers (who are from the community and trained as health educators) were entrusted with carrying out outreach activities which included education, condom promotion and follow-up of STD cases.

A pair of zones was supervised by another sex worker who was designated as supervisor based on her skill and a minimum of three years experience in the same work. Her role was to influence the community through formation of zonal self help groups so that the group, as a whole, could take joint decision to ensure condom use by their clients. A client refused by a sex worker in the same zone could not be entertained by others in that zone.


Creating peer pressure within the community has helped improvement of condom use as verified by cross-section studies conducted in the area.

TABLE: Condom Use among Sex Workers

YearPercentage Condom Use
1992 (Baseline)2.7


There has been tremendous increase in condom use over the years. However, the increase in rate has slowed down in the recent past. Some other deep-rooted structural issues need to be addressed to overcome this barrier.

The XIV International AIDS Conference
Abstract no. TuPeF5332

Suggested Citation
" M K Dutta, et al. Strategizing peer pressure in enhancing safer sex practices in brothel setting. Poster Exhibition: The XIV International AIDS Conference: Abstract no. TuPeF5332"