Understanding Sex Work: Impacts


Neighbourhoods are affected by the street-level sex work due to the disorder caused by sex work or solicitation taking place in public places. Businesses, residents and schools sometimes report discomfort with the presence of sex workers nearby. Sex work is perceived as bringing increased crime and violence into neighbourhoods, including drug dealing and gang activity. Residents express concern about the threat to personal security posed by the street-based sex industry. Litter related to sex work poses a health and safety risk for individuals and stigmatizes the neighbourhood as being unsafe and rife with crime.

Residents are concerned about sex workers working in front of residents’ houses and about sex workers having sex with customers in public places. Some parents report not knowing what to say to their children about the individuals standing on the street corners. A high level of discomfort about addressing the issue of sex work is common.

Within neighbourhoods, attitudes about the sex industry are diverse. Cultural dynamics also affect how particular neighbourhoods, residents and individual families perceive the sex industry and the health and safety risks it poses. Residents may themselves be sex workers, advocates, police officers, business owners or customers. Many residents feel great frustration and helplessness, whether to help sex workers or to move them out of their neighbourhoods to reduce their impact. However, most residents and businesses support safer working conditions for street-level sex workers.