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Video – Sex Workers: Stigma and barriers to health

19 February 2010

The UCL Institute for Global Health’s 12th symposium, ‘Sex Workers: Stigma and barriers to health’ is now available to view online.

Graham Scambler (UCL Infection & Population Health), Professor of Medical Sociology, began the symposium, held on 26 January 2010, by outlining the concepts of stigma and deviance, and the discourses around stigma and sex workers. He identified the heterogeneity of sex worker careers and issues surrounding regulation.

Issues of stigma were expanded upon by Helen Ward, Professor of Public Health at Imperial College London. Professor Ward has been involved in developing services for sex workers for many years, and used examples of her research to examine stigma, prostitution and its impacts on health. Contrary to popular belief, the most important health impacts of stigma are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or violence, but psychological problems.

Grand Challenge of Global Health

Dr Petra Boynton (UCL Open Learning) used stigma as a lens to focus on the obstacles and barriers encountered by sex workers in health and social care globally. She also highlighted the lack of consultation with sex workers when developing services and policies.

A lively discussion followed, including debate around trafficking, normalisation of sex work, male sex workers, and empowerment and agency.

To view the video or to find out more, use the links at the top of this article.


UCL context

The UCL Institute for Global Health is the hub bringing together UCL’s immense multidisciplinary wealth of intellectual capital and international collaborations to provide innovative, workable solutions to global health at scale.