Project 1: Knowledge Exchange about Violence and Resiliency in the Sex Industry

Project leaders: Dan Reist and Cecilia Benoit, University of Victoria

An important aspect of our national study is to create knowledge that can be shared. As such, the primary task of Project 1 is to synthesize our information and share it with the people who need it most.

For example, we can provide community organizations with the research findings helpful for them to secure funding to run their programs. Or, we can provide targeted information to policy makers to ensure the rules and regulations they create better serve sex workers. And, we can report on our findings in the popular media to help dispel myths held about sex workers by the broader Canadian public.

This process is collaborative, involving the critical feedback of our entire team: research participants, community partners, governmental organizations, students and researchers.

Project 2: National Survey of People Working in the Canadian Sex Industry

Project leader: Cecilia Benoit, University of Victoria

Project 2 involves conducting face-to-face and online interviews with sex workers across Canada. The purpose is to determine the amount of violence sex workers experience in the context of their everyday lives, and the levels of resiliency they are able to establish in the face of adversity. Factors we will be looking at are:

  1. How do municipal and provincial policies concerning sex work (for example, bawdy house and solicitation laws) and their enforcement (by police and the courts) shape the lives of sex workers?
  2. How do sex workers' relationships with their clients, employers and/or romantic partners protect and/or harm sex workers?
  3. What are the individual characteristics that leave some sex workers particularly vulnerable to violence and poorer overall health and well-being?

Project 3: Survey of People Working in the Canadian Sex Industry and Their Romantic/Intimate Partners

Project leader: Mikael Jansson, University of Victoria

This project explores key issues related to sex workers’ romantic partnerships. Our main goal is to better understand the nature of the intimate relationship and the challenges partners face in supporting sex workers to keep safe and healthy.

Our research team is hoping to discover how:

  • sex workers and their partners work together to achieve a strong and fulfilling romantic relationship
  • the actions of partners promote sex workers’ workplace safety and health
  • partner characteristics (for example, employment status and income) impact sex workers’ risk behaviours
  • laws, regulations, policies and services impact on the health and safety of sex workers, their partners, and their families

Project 4: Positioning Sex Buyers in the Nexus of Violence, Gender and Health

Project leader: Chris Atchison, Simon Fraser University

Looking at the issue of sex worker health and safety from a slightly different perspective, Project 4 focuses on the relationship between paying clients and sex workers. Important to this project are:

  • the reasons why sex buyers purchase sex
  • the decisions sex buyers make in regard to health and safety (their own and that of sex workers)
  • the personal, situational and structural factors that shape the interaction between sex worker and client

This project is comprised of an online survey followed by qualitative face-to-face interviews with a small group of respondents.

Project 5: Supervising Sex Work: Challenges to Workplace Safety and Health

Project leaders: Rachel Phillips, University of Victoria, Bill McCarthy, University of California at Davis, and Lauren Casey, University of Victoria

The goal of Project 5 is to better understand managers' experiences in the sex industry and to learn about their perspectives on health, safety and well-being in their workplaces. Managers play an important role in setting and maintaining workplace practices in some sex work businesses and they are often a key point of contact for law enforcement, clients and workers. It is therefore essential to include their often overlooked perspective on health and safety and to address misinformation and stereotypes about management. Interviews will be conducted with managers working in a variety of sex work businesses in the six research sites.

Project 6: The Effects of Prostitution Law on Vulnerabilities, Resiliencies and Health

Project leader: Frances Shaver, Concordia University

Project 6 examines how Canadian laws are implemented in the six cities chosen as research sites. It looks at how municipal police enact sections of the Criminal Code of Canada; how inspectors, city officials, and licensing boards attempt to regulate sex work; and the effect that can have on sex workers’ health, security and resiliency. It investigates the role of outreach and service providers who often act as a liaison between regulatory agencies and sex workers.