Understandng Sex Work


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.

Residents Sex Workers Business
Increased traffic in neighbourhoodBeing blamed for everything that is wrong with the neighbourhood regardless of whether the problem is related to sex workCustomers being harassed
Residents being harassed by johnsJudgment & discriminationHard time keeping female staff because of safety concerns
GarbageThreatsBusinesses broken into
Property values are affectedLabeledDecreased business
Strangers in our neighbourhoodViolenceUsing the entrance of the businesses as a washroom
Not enough policePovertyDrug paraphernalia and condoms
Fearful for children’s safetyLack of support servicesIncreased amounts of garbage
Recruitment of children by pimpsSexual exploitationVerbally abused by sex workers
Increase in criminal and drug activityBusinesses have hired security guards who shame and humiliate workersNot wanting to stay open late
NoiseDrug addictionProperty damage
Being harassed by sex workersHomelessnessCriminal activity
Threats from sex workersDeathBusinesses have given up reporting break-ins and damages because it becomes an insurance issue
Drug dealersSTDsHaving to hire increased security
Don’t feel safe walking at nightRecruitingNegative opinion of neighbourhood when there is visible sex work
Sex workers having sex with customers in public placesObjects getting thrown at them
Sex workers standing in front of residents houses and workingDiscredited due to drug use
Seniors fear for their safetyVictims of crime
Gay bashing
Hopelessness & worthlessness