Sex workers face many physical and mental health impacts. The stigma associated with sex work has serious repercussions for sex workers, a population that is the most socially, legally and economically marginalized in Canada. Stereotypes are harmful to the self-esteem of individuals and can lead to further exploitation. Stigmatization also exacerbates the hidden nature of sex work and increases the potential for violence.
Harassment from the general public decreases sex workers’ health and safety and increases their risk of mental, emotional, physical or spiritual injury. Sex workers have to contend with the throwing of objects; yelling out of obscenities; stalking; pressure from drug dealers, vigilantes, pimps and police; no access to washrooms and payphones; being forced to work in unsafe dark industrial areas; being barred from public establishments; and facing public judgments.