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Principal Investigator

  • Gillian Abel

Supported by University of Otago


There has been a lot of focus on developing programmes to assist people to leave sex work, with the focus on the negative consequences of working in the industry. Conceptualising sex work as social problem can be problematic given the many benefits those in the industry articulate as arising from their work. Programmes which focus on the negative aspects of sex work as prerequisite for leaving the industry would not be entirely effective as they ignore the positive motivations for exiting the industry. Not all who wish to leave sex work view their time in the industry as a negative experience (Abel et al., 2007). For this reason, policies emphasising strategies to encourage sex workers to exit the industry are likely to have little impact. There is a wealth of literature on why people enter and remain in the sex industry, but little research has been done on people who have exited the industry and the strategies used for a successful exit. There are numerous obstacles for those who do wish to exit and appropriate support programmes need to be developed to assist them in this task. The Prostitution Law Review Committee, in its evaluation of the PRA, recommended the establishment of a range of services to assist exiting for those who wish to exit the sex industry (Prostitution Law Review Committee, 2008). This research project aims to explore what strategies have been successful in assisting people to exit the industry with the objective of informing best practice programmes. This is best achieved through in-depth interviews with ex-sex workers so that their experiences may inform these programmes.

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