Supportive housing improves safety for female sex workers: B.C. study
Reports on a study published in the American Journal of Public Health that found that female sex workers living in and operating from supportive-housing units have less adversarial relationships with police and were exposed to less violence and disease, such as HIV.
Female sex workers living in and operating from supportive-housing units have less adversarial relations with police, says a new study.
The study was published Wednesday in the "American Journal of Public Health" and was authored by researchers from the University of B.C. and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS.
Based on interviews with 39 women living on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, the study also found female sex workers living in the housing units were exposed to less violence and disease, such as HIV.
The study was released just a month after Ontario's top court struck down a ban on bawdy houses.
It also comes amid the inquiry into serial killer Robert Pickton, which has heard the poor relationship between sex workers and police makes them reluctant to report abuse.
"I think it's actually providing a really important opportunity for sex workers to actually feel safe to reach out to police for protection rather than feeling constantly criminalized," said Kate Shannon, senior author and assistant professor of medicine at UBC.
According to the study, the women lived in supportive-housing programs run by the Atira Women's Resource Society and RainCity Housing and Support Society on the Downtown Eastside.
The housing units operate on a harm-reduction model, meaning the women are given a place to live and pay rent, but what they do in their units is their business.
Security measure are in place and include women-only buildings, security cameras, front-desk sign-in procedures for guests and clients, and on-site staff who can call police in the event of violence.