The Framing of Sex Work and its Impact on Health Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Canada, Australia and Sweden

Title: The Framing of Sex Work and its Impact on Health Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of Canada, Australia and Sweden
Authors: Berus, Catherine
Date: 2013-09-09
Abstract: Canada’s prostitution laws have created a legal paradox whereby sex work itself is not illegal, but facilitating acts are. Research has shown that such a criminalization frame has increased risks to both the safety and health of sex workers in Canada. Furthermore, despite having access to a universal healthcare system, sex workers continue to experience worse health outcomes when compared to the general population. The objectives of this major research paper are to explore how framing sex work along the legal spectrum impacts/creates barriers to accessing healthcare and healthcare outcomes, and to provide best practice policy recommendations for Canada. To achieve this, the paper will present a comparative analysis of three case studies: Canada (criminalization); Australia (legalization) and Sweden (neo-abolitionist). The impact of these three varying framing/legal approaches on health outcomes of sex workers was evaluated by completing a literature review on three health indicators: HIV transmission/rates; intravenous drug use (IDU) and post-traumatic stress disorder rates (PTSD). The research within this MRP draws three main conclusions based on the findings. First, how sex work is framed in policy and legislation has an extending impact on accessing health care services due to the fact that related health and social policies, programs and promotions must align with legislation on sex work. Secondly, the Australian state of New South Wales provides the most successful best practices in improving the health outcomes of sex workers. Finally, despite a lack of information and monitoring of sex workers’ health in Canada, the case of INSITE Vancouver demonstrates there is significant potential for the Canadian healthcare system to reduce HIV transmission and IDU risks through needle exchange programming.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers