Researchers help to shape strategic policy framework on sexual health
Researchers from the Centre for Criminal Justice and Criminology at Swansea University’s School of Law have carried out research into the off-street sex market in Cardiff in partnership with Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru.
The research identified 395 sex workers advertising their services independently or ‘off-street’ via a variety of channels including the internet, local newspapers or working in parlour and massage establishments throughout the city.
The research also shows that off-street sex workers had no or limited access to sexual health or support services.
Dr Tracey Sagar and Debbie Jones who carried out the research explained: “Until this research was carried out, the off-street sex market was ‘invisible’ in terms of any sexual health strategic policy framework.
“We wanted to find out if off-street workers had support, if they were accessing sexual health services, and if they disclosed that they were sex workers to those services. The research found that keeping sex work a secret occupation was vitally important to our respondents.
“Indeed, many sex workers are not accessing sexual health services, or any services at all, and few feel able to disclose their occupation.”
Dr Sagar added: “One of the respondents commented that ‘In Birmingham someone came round to the brothels. It was very good to check us out, but nobody came here.’
“The fear of disclosing sex work as an occupation is also clearly illustrated by the following comment: ‘I would like a service just for sex workers where they are not judged...something for sexual health.’"
Professor Kevin Haines, Professor of Criminology and Youth Justice at the Centre for Criminal Justice and Criminology at Swansea University said: “This important research is part of a wider programme Dr Sagar, her research team and partners are undertaking to better understand the situation of sex workers and to focus support services where needed.
“Dr Sagar’s research is attracting increasing interest from researchers and service providers from around the World including New Zealand and the United States.”
The research was carried out with the support of the Cardiff Sex Work Forum and forms part of the Forum’s wider research agenda.
The findings will assist agencies to develop appropriate services over the coming months and help to shape the strategic policy framework on sexual health.
For more information about the project see www.swansea.ac.uk/law.
This news item forms part of Swansea University’s support for the second annual Universities Week, which takes place from 13-19 June 2011, and aims to increase public awareness of the wide and varied role of the universities in Wales and across Britain.
Universities Week looks at the many different ways in which universities affect all of our lives — from supporting the economy, to working within local communities, to looking at how their research programmes could change our futures. Hundreds of events will be taking place around the country open to members of the public, as well as high-profile media coverage and activity across social media networks.
For more information on Universities Week, visit www.universitiesweek.org.uk or join via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ukuniversities.