New research project to compare experiences of violence homicide and mental health among sex workers

Professor Teela Sanders and Dr Rosie Campbell OBE from the Department of Criminology have written an article for Think: Leicester discussing their new research project and the significance of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, which takes place on 17 December.

In the article they reflect on the continued high levels of targeted violence and hate crime committed against sex workers and also some of the changing trends in crimes experienced by sex workers as sex work itself changes, as do wider crime patterns. 

The article also outlines their current ESRC-funded project Beyond the Gaze (partnered with Professor Jane Scoular at the University of Strathclyde) on the working conditions, safety and regulation of internet based sex work and the safety and crime issues faced by people working in the online sector.

Professor Sander said: "In our research we have found that the relationship between sex work and violence is shaped by three key elements which allow for differences in the research evidence on the levels of violence between sectors and across different jurisdictions. Firstly, the environment / spaces in which sex work takes place, this acknowledges the different locational and organisational factors which shape safety across sectors. 

"Secondly, the relationship to the state, that is where a particular form of sex work sits in the regulatory systems, its legal status, how and the extent to which it is criminalised and how those laws are enforced.

"Thirdly, stigma, social status, and the ‘othering’ of sex workers increases hostility and violence."

In 2017 the Wellcome Trust has funded a research project which will compare the experiences of violence, homicide and mental health amongst sex workers with other ‘risky’ occupational groups. This will be led by Professor Teela Sanders with Dr Lucy Platt and Pippa Grenfell at the London School of Tropical Medicine, working in partnership with NUM.