February 9th, 2010
A few weeks ago colleagues and myself took part in a symposium at University College London’s Institute of Global Health. Our focus was stigma in relation to sex work, specifically focusing on how this can get in the way of providing healthcare to those involved in prostitution.
Professor Graham Scambler discussed core concepts of stigma and particularly focused on how we understand sex work. He also addressed issues of diversity within sex work (how people are involved in it and what their health needs might be) as well as reflecting on agency and wellbeing on sex workers – particularly in relation to debates on trafficking.
Professor Helen Ward focused on her work with female sex workers, particularly around physical, cultural and psychological barriers they encountered in relation to accessing healthcare and maintaining wellbeing. Drawing upon interviews with sex workers she outlined how stigma is enacted and how this impacts upon those involved in prostitution.
My contribution drew upon my past research background in this area and more recent practice in working with healthcare practitioners to embed evidence within their sexual health practice. Focusing on experiences of training practitioners globally and the wider evidence base on stigma related barriers to healthcare I talked about the problems experienced by practitioners, NGOs/charities, sex workers and communities in providing adequate, accessible and appropriate healthcare.
All three presentations questioned concepts such as stigma and sex work and particularly addressed the problems facing healthcare staff in knowing how to access and apply evidence to inform good practice. We also focused on challenging the rhetoric that can often run around terms like ‘evidence based practice’, ‘stigma’ and ‘trafficking’ and encouraged the audience to think about ways to improve their research and healthcare provision, engage sex workers in decision making about their care, and reflect on what their role was as healthcare providers/researcher in relation to addressing sex work.
You can see the each presentation (including our slides) and the following panel discussion here.
Please feel free to share this link, which should be of particular interest if you are…
- a student or practitioner in healthcare (particularly global health)
- working for a charity, NGO or other organisation involved with addressing prostitution
- a sex worker or ally
- a researcher studying sex work
- a lecturer in medical education and/or evidence based practice
If you’ve any questions about the presentation feel free to contact me and I can pass them on to the relevant speakers. And if you’re working in health care (as a practitioner, charity or other organisation) and want further training on improving the care offered to those involved in sex work please get in touch if you think I can help you or your organisation.
The event provided a lot of discussion during the panel and afterwards and I know has led to further activities among researchers and practitioners. I’ll post updates on some of those activities in a future blog.Tweet