Posted by: Tony Carson | 20 August, 2007

Prostitutes and PTSD

Who knew?

A 2003 study by California researcher Melissa Farley says about 68 per cent of sex workers surveyed in nine countries, including some from British Columbia, reported post-traumatic stress disorder on the same level as those who served in military combat. And her 2005 study says 100 sex workers interviewed in Vancouver had “an extremely high prevalence of lifetime violence and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Yet even with this perceived “silent epidemic” that could have potentially fatal consequences (if left untreated, the disorder can lead to suicide or drug and alcohol addictions) there are two major issues concerning the disorder and sex workers:

First, advocates say traditional treatment methods won’t work for women who lack the resources and social support to get better.

Second, there’s a debate about whether it’s sex work itself or Canada’s prostitution laws that put women in danger. There are new laws banning bawdy houses, living on the avails and communicating for the purpose of prostitution. Activists in Toronto are debating whether it’s a lack of legal protection or the nature of sex work itself that endangers the lives of thousands of sex workers – witness the horrifying details of the Robert Pickton trial – and exposes them to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The full Toronto Star story is here Stress plagues sex-trade workers.

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