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Synergy Session: Myth Busting the Sex Industry in Canada

With Frances M. Shaver, Professor, Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University.

Friday, August 9, 2013, Memorial University, St. John's, NL

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Dr. Shaver's presentation slides with notes


Session Description

Like many industries in Canada, the sex industry is more complex and misunderstood than many people realize. Yet unlike most other industries, the sex industry is subject to social stigma, and a range of safety and legal concerns that severely complicates the lives and livelihoods of workers, their families, managers, and clients.

There are a lot of myths surrounding the sex industry in Canada--who is involved, how they got there, and the conditions they work under. Dr. Frances M. Shaver (Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia), in St. John's doing field work as part of the major national research project Understanding Sex Work, will bust some of the myths about the sex industry.

Dr. Shaver will give an overview of the diversity and commonalities of the individuals involved in the industry (workers, clients, and managers), discuss how they tend to enter the industry, provide a brief analyses of the social and legal environments in which they operate, and conclude with some suggestions of where to go from here.

You are invited to learn from Dr. Shaver's rich expertise on the subject and to contribute your knowledge or questions about the state of the sex trade in Newfoundland and Labrador, and how it is being affected by increasing prosperity and a growing income disparity.


Dr. Frances M. Shaver is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. She has been conducting research on various aspects of the sex industry since 1985. In addition to initiating events bringing together community partners and other interested scholars and policy makers, Dr. Shaver has also frequently spoken about her research in the media. She has appeared before House of Commons Subcommittees, Departments of Justice (Ontario, Québec, Canada), and a variety of NGOs. She has also prepared affidavits for the two ongoing court cases challenging the unconstitutionality of Canadian prostitution laws.

Currently, Dr. Shaver is involved in a national CIHR-funded research project, Understanding Sex Work, which is focusing on the reasons for variability in health and safety among sex workers, many of whom face elevated risks of violence and premature death.

The team--including researchers, knowledge users, collaborators and community partners from across Canada and internationally--are working collaboratively to identify key factors linked to violence and vulnerabilities in the Canadian sex industry, estimate the links between sex workers, clients, romantic partners, supervisors/managers, and police and other regulatory agencies. The knowledge generated by this project will be used to inform policies and practices aimed at improving the safety and health of sex workers and those they relate to at work and in their personal lives.

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