A review of the literature on sex workers and social exclusion

Document type
Balfour, Reuben; Allen, Jessica
Department of Health
Date of publication
1 April 2014
Social Policy, Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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This paper aims to review the existing evidence on sex workers in the UK, paying particular attention to health alongside wider issues of social exclusion, such as poverty, homelessness, and substance misuse.

The paper is structured around three main themes. The first theme examines the driving factors which cause vulnerability, social exclusion, and involvement in sex work. The second theme looks at how processes of exclusion affect the lives of sex workers and considers the different levels of social exclusion experienced by certain groups of sex workers. Sex workers face significant risks and ill-health; in particular, on-street, off-street, migrant, and trafficked sex workers. Finally, the third theme explores the barriers which prevent greater social inclusion and the stabilisation of sex workers’ lives. Many of these barriers relate to broader issues of social exclusion beyond sex work itself.

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