265512 From violence to selling sex: Can sex work be empowering for women who have experienced inter-personal violence?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 1:38 PM - 1:55 PM

Shonali M. Choudhury, PhD, MMH , School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Debbie Anglade, MSN, RN, LHRM, CPHQ, CCM , School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Kyuwon Park, MS, RN , School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Aims: This study focused on issues of identity, social relationships, power disparities and HIV susceptibility among female sex workers in Tijuana, Mexico. Specifically, this analysis focused on electing to enter sex work as a powerful move to escape contexts of interpersonal violence Methods: This paper reports findings from a constructivist grounded theory qualitative study in which data was collected with in-depth interviews with 20 women working in the sex work industry in Tijuana. Grounded theory schematics for data analysis were employed. Results: About 70% of the women who participated in this study disclosed that they had experienced inter-personal violence prior to working in the sex industry. Most stated that this experience of violence was in the hands of boyfriends/husbands. Findings indicate that they were dependent on these abusive men for financial support. Results from this study clearly show that these women had sufficient agency to leave their abusive relationships and in many cases can see the positive in working in the sex industry because it represents no longer living in those abusive relationships. Conclusions: The study highlights that the health of women who work in the commercial sex industry should not be limited to focusing on the health risks of their occupation. Instead, a health and wellness across the lifespan approach is needed to grasp a holistic understanding of the health risks in their lives prior to working in the sex industry. This approach also allows for highlighting the strengths that these women have in their lives.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the role of intimate partner violence in the lives of female sex workers 2. Describe the limitations of focusing on health risk of the occupation of women working in the sex industry 3. Discuss a health across the lifespan approach to the health of female sex workers

Keywords: Sex Workers, Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principal investigator for the research being presented. The work being presented is part of my doctoral dissertation research. I have conducted HIV related research with vulnerable populations in both academic and community-based organization environments.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.