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J Sex Med. 2011 Jan;8(1):116-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01967.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

The job satisfaction of female sex workers working in licensed brothels in Victoria, Australia.

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Sexual Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



Previous studies have examined sex workers' attitudes to work but not their levels of job satisfaction compared with other occupations.


The job satisfaction levels and standards of living of sex workers in licensed brothels in Victoria were compared with Australian women.


Responses to a questionnaire that included questions about sex work and their "most likely alternative job." Survey data was compared with identical questions from the Households, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.


A structured survey was undertaken with sex workers in Victoria attending a a sexual health service.


Of the 112 sex workers who agreed to participate in the study, 85 (76%) completed the survey. The median years women had been working as sex workers was three (range 0.1-18). The main reasons women started sex work was because "they needed the money" (69%), were attracted to the flexible hours (44%) or had a particular goal in mind (43%). The two biggest concerns women had about sex work were their safety (65%) and the risk of sexually transmitted infections (65%). When compared with the median job satisfaction scores of Australian women working in sex workers' "most likely alternative jobs," 50% of sex workers reported a higher median satisfaction score for sex work in relation to hours worked, 47% in relation to flexibility, 43% in relation to total pay, 26% in relation to job security, 19% in relation to the work itself, and 25% in relation to overall job satisfaction.


Women reported that they primarily do sex work for financial gain although a significant minority prefer it to other work they would be likely to do. These results should be interpreted in the context that the presence of personality disorders that are common among sex workers were not measured in this study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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