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Study: Sex workers do it to pay bills

MONTREAL, June 8 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers are advocating sweeping changes for sex work conducted on and off the streets to ensure the health and safety of sex workers.

First author Frances Shaver, a professor at Concordia University, along with Jacqueline Lewis and Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale, both of the University of Windsor, analyzed data from more than 450 interviews conducted with sex workers and 40 law enforcement officials and public health advocates.

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"We must not only change our laws, we must also revamp our attitudes and implement policies that protect the social, physical and psychological rights of sex workers," Shaver says in a statement. "Regardless of where and how they conduct their business, sex workers are left on their own to ensure their health and safety on the job."

The researchers say the vast majority of sex workers are consenting adults who do the work to pay their bills. By most estimates, 10 percent to 20 percent solicit clients off the street, and the vast majority work from home, brothels, escort agencies, strip clubs or massage parlors.

"Most get into the business because they know someone who knows someone," Shaver says. "It's rare that boyfriends force girlfriends into sex work."

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Federal laws need to be amended because a home-based practice is illegal, too, as it's considered operating a bawdy house, Shaver says.

The findings are published in the Canadian Review of Sociology.

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