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213 Indoor sex workers’occupational health and safety supports in a criminalized setting
  1. Andrea Krüsi1,
  2. Bronwyn McBride1,
  3. Minshu Mo1,
  4. Shira Goldenberg1,2,
  5. Kate Shannon1,3,
  6. Andrea Krüsi1,3
  1. 1Center for Gender and Sexual Health Equity, Vancouver, Canada
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, USA
  3. 3Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada


Background/Objectives End-demand criminalization of sex work in Canada has been linked to increased risk of violence and lack of workplace protections and occupational health and safety standards for sex workers. In the context of end-demand criminalization, we drew on the Guide to Occupational Health and Safety in the New Zealand Sex Industry (the NZ Guide), where sex work is decriminalized to examine psychosocial dimensions of OHS among indoor sex workers in Metro Vancouver, Canada.

Methods Part of a longitudinal community-based study (AESHA), this analysis drew on 47 qualitative interviews, conducted in English/Mandarin/Cantonese in 2017–2018, with indoor sex workers and third parties providing services for them. Participants’ narratives were analyzed using a coding framework based on the NZ Guide’s section focused on psychosocial factors, including safety and security from violence and complaints processes.

Results Participants’ narratives highlighted significant shortcomings in OHS in the context of end-demand sex work laws and absence of clear OHS guidelines for indoor sex work environments. Participants identified a significant lack of support with: safety training; right to refuse services; and access to justice in the context of labour rights violations, fraud, robbery or violence.

Discussion/Conclusions Our findings emphasize the need for full decriminalization of sex work to ensure sex workers’ access to OHS and allow development and implementation of OHS guidelines designed by and for the indoor sex industry. OHS guidelines should focus on training and safety guidance, as well as, the development of guidance around sex workers’ right to refuse services, and access to justice.

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