Descriptive Statistics with a Purpose

Descriptive Statistics with a Purpose

Ronan Conroy (Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-097-6.ch015
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A statistic is a data summary which provides useful information. I use the example of sex work research in Africa to ask the question “useful to whom?”. In over 800 papers on sex work in Africa published over more than two decades, the focus has been on sex workers as spreaders of HIV, enriching the research community while further stigmatising the sex workers who participate in the research. In this study, partly run by sex workers themselves, the focus is on targeting micro-economic aid, and documenting the violent and abusive culture in which sex work is practised. The chapter illustrates the data analysis using Stata. However, it tries to place the descriptive statistics into their wider context in the research agenda, including a discussion of the ethics of research into vulnerable groups.
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Who Needs Statistics About Sex Workers And Why?

Before I introduce some descriptive statistics, I have to explain why we might need them. And to do that, I need to tell you something about sex work and sex work research in sub-Saharan Africa.

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