I know from my own circle of friends - at least the ones who aren't sex workers themselves - that it's almost like people are frightened to rethink what they think they know about the sex industry. Yet there is so much exceptional research out there that challenges this fuzzy belief that to be a sex worker is to be a helpless, trafficked victim dragged into the business by a man who will beat you if you don't comply.
But surely the public's instinct to want to avoid thinking about an industry they find unpleasant hardly outweighs the rights of tens of thousands of other Canadians to a safer workplace and some respect and dignity. In other words, get informed, people.
And here are some excellent research papers and relevant info to help get you started:
- London School of Economics study on incidence of violent pimps, or any pimps at all, in the lives of U.S. sex workers
- Multi-project Canadian study into sex work funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
- Straight-up information on "third parties" in the Canadian sex industry put together by the Montreal sex-work group Stella
- Opinion pieces, blog posts and research by Canadian sociology professor Fran Shaver
- Prostitution research from SFU criminology professor John Lowman
- A 2010 study of adult Canadian buyers
- Reality about managers in the industry from the CIHR research project