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J Sex Res. 2018 May -Jun;55(4-5):457-471. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2017.1393652. Epub 2017 Nov 17.

Prostitution Stigma and Its Effect on the Working Conditions, Personal Lives, and Health of Sex Workers.

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a Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia , University of Victoria.


Researchers have shown that stigma is a fundamental determinant of behavior, well-being, and health for many marginalized groups, but sex workers are notably absent from their analyses. This article aims to fill the empirical research gap on sex workers by reviewing the mounting evidence of stigmatization attached to sex workers' occupation, often referred to as "prostitution" or "whore" stigma. We give special attention to its negative effect on the working conditions, personal lives, and health of sex workers. The article first draws attention to the problem of terminology related to the subject area and makes the case for consideration of prostitution stigmatization as a fundamental cause of social inequality. We then examined the sources of prostitution stigma at macro, meso, and micro levels. The third section focuses on tactics sex workers employ to manage, reframe, or resist occupational stigma. We conclude with a call for more comparative studies of stigma related to sex work to contribute to the general stigma literature, as well as social policy and law reform.

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