Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study Finds Sex Work Can Be an Occupational Choice for Some in Industry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Study Finds Sex Work Can Be an Occupational Choice for Some in Industry

Article excerpt

Sex work can be an occupational choice: study

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VANCOUVER - Some sex workers are choosing the industry because it can be more lucrative and rewarding than low-paying service industry jobs, says a recent study by a researcher at the University of Victoria.

Prof. Cecilia Benoit, a scientist at the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C., said she's heard a variety of reasons why sex workers get into the business through past studies, reasons that not only contradict the public perception of being coerced or exploited but also questions the efficacy of prostitution laws that are based on the notion all sex workers are victims.

Benoit decided to quantify and analyze the comments she had previously heard and began a study after receiving funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Her research team surveyed more than 200 female, male and transgender sex workers in six communities across Canada.

While a third of sex workers who were surveyed entered the industry due to "critical life events," such as abuse or neglect, Benoit said it was more surprising to find that a quarter found the work appealing.

"They like working in this line of activity and they feel they are discovering themselves," Benoit said in an interview.

A Vancouver sex worker said he got into the industry three years ago while he was a student in part to make money, but also to explore his sexuality and curiosity about the business. He asked that his name not be used because of fears of being stigmatized and harassed.

Prior to his involvement in sex work, he identified as being gay, but came to realize he is transgendered.

After discussions with his doctor about living with gender dysphoria, he said he decided that transitioning to a woman was not an option for him, at least in the near future.

But he decided to remain involved in sex work, seeing mostly men but also women and couples.

"My life is unconventional due to the gender dysphoria, so it allows me to express certain needs that I have through work," he said.

His situation is not uncommon. While research into male sex workers is limited, a study by the University of British Columbia published last year found that the exploration of sexual and gender identity was a theme among male sex workers, with more than 70 per cent of study participants identifying as a gender or sexual minority. …

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