Background: The regulation of sex work is contentious in all countries, including for governments, the public, and sex workers themselves. Research shows sex workers’ perspectives are ignored during policy formation in most cases. This is despite the fact they have unique insider knowledge and are directly affected by the policies that are enacted. Methods: We analyzed the accounts of a heterogeneous sample of adult sex workers (N = 218) residing in different urban cities in Canada to find out their views on current laws and their recommendations for reform. The interviews were conducted in 2012–2013 prior to the implementation of the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act
. The paper thus provides an opportunity to compare the changes desired by Canadian sex workers with changes put into law by the Act. Results: Although the interview questions did not directly ask about the current legal system, 121 expressed an opinion. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) the challenges that criminalization posed to sex workers; (2) the workers’ suggestions for legal reform; and (3) potential issues with legal reform. Conclusions: We discuss the contributions our qualitative findings make to the scholarship on sex work regulation and call for further research that includes sex workers’ voices in decision-making regarding changes to policies affecting their lives.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited