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Stress in the sex trade and beyond: Women working in the sex trade talk about the emotional stressors in their working and home lives

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There is an extensive body of research literature on female sex trade workers' risks of sexually transmitted infections including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We also have a vast literature on the physical assaults and violence experienced by female sex trade workers while working. However, we know relatively little about other aspects of the women's health, and especially the ways in which social relations within both their working and private lives affect their emotional health. This qualitative research, which is based on 68 semi-structured interviews with female sex trade workers who work in a variety of different settings, describes and examines the emotional stressors in female prostitutes lives, and shows how stressors permeate both their working and home lives. Although some of the women utilize various strategies to reduce the stressors and are not simply victims of their circumstances and the conditions that shape their lives, their stories point to a clear opening for a critical public health to support the development of programmes and policies that might respond to these issues and improve the health and well-being of many women who work in the industry.
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Keywords: Sex; health promotion; healthy public policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada 2: Mainline Needle Exchange, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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