Sex work sometimes negatively impacts individuals, community groups and the social system at large. Each group—sex workers, children and youth, businesses, and residents—feels the impact differently. Since 2004, Living in Community has been exploring these concerns through consultations and engagement with community members.

Due to their visibility, street-based sex workers are sometimes blamed for things that they might have nothing to do with. For example, the presence of sex workers is often blamed for an increase in residential or automobile break-ins even though they have not participated in those crimes.

Awareness of the grievances of sex workers, businesses and residents can help us find common ground so that, together, we can improve the health and safety of our neighbourhoods. Here is a chart of concerns that have been identified by community members, many of which can be addressed through dialogue and education.


Sex workers


Increased traffic in neighbourhood

Being blamed for everything that is wrong with the neighbourhood regardless of whether the problem is related to sex work

Customers being harassed

Residents being harassed by johns

Judgment & discrimination

Hard time keeping female staff because of safety concerns



Businesses broken into

Property values are affected


Decreased business

Strangers in our neighbourhood


Using the entrance of the businesses as a washroom

Not enough police


Drug paraphernalia and condoms

Fearful for children’s safety

Lack of support services

Increased amounts of garbage

Recruitment of children by pimps

Sexual exploitation

Verbally abused by sex workers

Increase in criminal and drug activity

Businesses have hired security guards who shame and humiliate workers

Not wanting to stay open late


Drug addiction

Property damage

Being harassed by sex workers


Criminal activity

Threats from sex workers


Businesses have given up reporting break-ins and damages because it becomes an insurance issue

Drug dealers


Having to hire increased security

Don’t feel safe walking at night


Negative opinion of neighbourhood when there is visible sex work

Sex workers having sex with customers in public places

Objects getting thrown at them


Sex workers standing in front of residents houses and working

Discredited due to drug use


Seniors fear for their safety

Victims of crime



Gay bashing



Hopelessness & worthlessness


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