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Salud colectiva

Print version ISSN 1669-2381On-line version ISSN 1851-8265


SANTOS, Raquel; SACRAMENTO, Octávio  and  MENDONCA, Vera. On the margins of care: sex workers’ experiences of health and social (non-)protection in Oporto, Portugal. Salud colect. [online]. 2022, vol.18, e3891.  Epub June 22, 2022. ISSN 1669-2381.

This article analyzes the social and health challenges linked to sex work and the interventions carried out within this arena, taking into consideration the ways in which prostitution is socially marginalized. Basing our analysis on the experiences and understandings of sex workers practicing in the city of Oporto (Portugal), we attempt to understand the main forms of vulnerability faced by this group, along with the ways in which they experience the relationship with State services and social and health interventions that target them. Qualitative field research was conducted involving a case study of an intervention project. Data collection was carried out from March to June 2019, and included documentary research, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews with project staff and six sex workers. Among the results of our study, we found that sex workers are subject to severe constraints, limiting their use of informal support networks and their access to State social protection and healthcare services. Moreover, although the intervention project based on harm reduction intended to support these women and was indeed valued, it had a strong epidemiological prevention bias favoring an individualistic and assistentialist approach, while failing to address other social vulnerabilities identified by the women themselves.

Keywords : Sex Work; Health Services Accessibility; Risk Reduction Management; Portugal.

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