Dr Emma Smith
PhD title: ‘Violence can mean a lot of things can’t it?’ An exploration of responses to harm associated with indoor sex work in Scotland.
Emma’s doctoral research involved individual and focus groups interviews with sex workers and service providers throughout Scotland.
Findings from the research identified the range of experiences, definitions and meanings participants attach to the concept of harm associated with sex work, and the implications arising from these responses.
Variations in responses were found between sex workers and service providers. Sex workers did not generally associate violence or harm with their experiences of involvement in sex work. Harm was more widely understood by sex workers in terms of negative assumptions, constructions of and responses (in law, policy and service provision) to sex work; including the view that violence and victimisation is a common component of sex work and restrictions on sex workers’ working practices. Service providers. by comparison, frequently linked sex work with experiences of violence, exploitation and victimisation.
For both sex workers and service providers, relationships and interactions formed a key aspect of their responses to harm associated with sex work; the quality of interactions being important, particularly for encouraging future uptake of services amongst sex workers.
Keywords: sex work, prostitution, violence, violence against women, gender, social justice, sex work police