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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2006 May;15(4):390-9.

Female street sex workers in Hong Kong: moving beyond sexual health.

Author information

  • 1Department of Community and Family Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong. cwwong@cuhk.edu.hk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

For many years, the sex industry in Hong Kong has appeared to be an integral and ever-expanding component of the city's sociocultural and economic structure. Accordingly, the physical and psychological health of sex workers is becoming an increasing concern for the workers themselves, the public, and government policy.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional survey on the quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life [WHOQOL]) of female sex workers (FSWs) in Hong Kong was used to investigate the physical and psychological well-being of street FSWs, and the results were compared with those of non-sex-working Hong Kong women after adjusting for age, educational level, marital status, and health status.

RESULTS:

The 89 FSWs surveyed scored significantly lower on QOL--WHOQOL-BREF (HK)--measures compared with the non-sex-working women. One common aspect among these sex workers was their negative view of themselves and of life. Many sex workers were at risk of being abused while at work, and many women worked without legal protection. Most of the women surveyed engaged in sex work to support their families. Because their income was often insufficient, some of their needs, especially those concerning health, were often neglected.

CONCLUSIONS:

The low WHOQOL-BREF (HK) scores in FSWs indicate feelings of helplessness and entrapment, which may well result in detrimental effects on sex workers' health, self-esteem, and confidence when asserting their basic rights, such as access to healthcare and safety. The conclusion highlights the vulnerability of this population to apparent weaknesses in Hong Kong's current healthcare system.

PMID:
16724887
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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