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research in action

The largest research project in Canada examining sex work and prostitution law.

(click here) for the latest updates

Team leader: Cecilia Benoit, PhD

Scientist & Professor Emerita

See also:

1. Cecilia's Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) profile page

2. Cecilia's Google scholar link profile page



Learning more about people and their experiences in the Canadian sex industry is the goal of this research project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

We have conducted further research on the impact of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C-36) on the health and safety of sex workers.

The sex industry, like other industries, is often more significant, complex and misunderstood than people realize. It involves a range of services and different types of relationships between people from various ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds. Yet unlike most other types of work, sex work carries the enormous burden of social stigma, safety concerns and legal issues, making the health and well-being of workers—and their families, managers and clients—difficult to achieve and maintain.

The project involves a variety of Canadian community organizations and an international team of researchers headed by Cecilia Benoit, a sociologist located at the University of Victoria. The team aims to understand better what our society can do to help improve the environments and lives of people associated with Canada’s sex industry.

Recent Peer-Reviewed Articles, Reports and Webinars

Benoit, C., Mellor, A., & Premji, Z. (2022). Access to sexual rights for people living with disabilities: Assumptions, evidence and policy outcomes. Archives of Sexual Behavior. (article)

Jansson, M., Smith, M., Benoit, C., & Magnuson, D. (2022). Challenges and benefits of disclosure of sex work to intimate partners. The Journal of Sex Research. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2022.2092587 (article)

Benoit, C., Unsworth, R. (2022). COVID-19, Stigma and the Ongoing Marginalization of Sex workers and their support organizations. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 51, 331–342. (article)

Benoit, C., Jansson, M. Phillips, R., Hallgrimsdottir, H. & Vallance, K. (2022). Social determinants of injection drug use among a community sample of sex workers: Intersections of structure and agency across the life course. In C. Varcoe, O. Hankivsky & M. Morrow (Eds.). Women's health in Canada: Critical theory, policy and practice (2nd ed.). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (chapter)

Benoit, C., Atchison, C., Casey, L., Jansson, M., McCarthy, B., Phillips, R., Reimer, B., R., Reist, D., Shaver, F. (2022, updated). Working paper for building on the evidence: An International symposium on the sex industry in Canada. (working paper).

Benoit, C. (Ed.). (2021). Understanding Exploitation in Consensual Sex Work to Inform Occupational Health & Safety Regulation. Basel, Switzerland, MDPI. (book)

Benoit, C. (2021). Editorial: Understanding Exploitation in Consensual Sex Work to Inform Occupational Health & Safety Regulation: Current Issues and Policy Implications. Social Sciences 10, 238. (article)

Benoit, C., Unsworth, R., Headley, P., Smith, M., Jansson, M. (2021). Centering Sex Workers’ Voices in Law and Social Policy. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. (article)

Smith, M., Benoit, C. (2021). Chapter 5: How Social Inequities in Maternity Care Impact Marginalised Groups. The FIGO Continuous Textbook of Women’s Medicine. Volume 1: Pregnancy and Society. London, King’s College. (article

McCarthy, B., Benoit, C. & Jansson, M. (2021). Job attributes and mental health: A comparative study of sex work and hairstyling. Social Sciences. 10(2):35. (article)

Orchard, T., Salter, K., Bunch, M., Benoit, C. (2020). Money, agency, and self-care among cisgender and trans people in sex work. Social Sciences. Special Issue "Understanding Exploitation in Consensual Sex Work to Inform Occupational Health & Safety Regulation". (article)

Benoit, C. (2020). COVID-19 benefits exclude sex workers in Canada. Options Politiques/Policy Options. (article)

Benoit, C., Unsworth, R. (2020). Early assessment of integrated knowledge translation efforts to mobilize sex workers in their communities. Archives of Sexual Behavior. (article) 

Card, K., Selfridge, M., Greer, A., Hepburn, K., Fournier, A., Sorge, J., Urbanoski, K., Pauly, B., Benoit, C., Lachowsky, N., Macdonald, S. (2020). Encounter-level outcomes of police interactions with young people who use drugs in three non-metropolitan cities across British Columbia, Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy. (article

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., Magnuson, D. (2020). The relative quality of sex work. Work, Employment & Society. (article)  

Stockwell, T., Benoit, C., Card, K., Sherk, A. Problematic substance use or problematic substance use policies? Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada: Research, Policy and Practice. (article

Greer, A., Sorge, J., Selfridge, M., Benoit, C., Jansson, M., Macdonald, S. (2020). Police discretion to charge young people who use drugs prior to cannabis legalization in British Columbia, Canada: a brief report of quantitative findings. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. DOI: 10.1080/09687637.2020.1745757 (article)

Benoit, C., Maurice, R., Able, G., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., Magnuson, D. (2019). “I dodged the stigma bullet”: Canadian sex workers’ situated responses to occupational stigma. Culture, Health & Sexuality. 22 (1), 81-95.  (article)

Orchard, T., Bunch, M., Katherine Salter Benoit, C. (2020). Balance, capacity and the contingencies of everyday life: Narrative etiologies of health among women in street-based sex work. Qualitative Health Research. 30 (4), 518-529. (article)

Ivsins, A., Benoit, C., Kobayashi, K., Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, Boyd, S. (2019). From risky places to safe spaces: Re-assembling spaces/places. Health and Place. 59, 102164. (article)

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., Magnuson, D. (2019). Effectiveness of anecdotes and logically false arguments to refute analysis based on systematically collected data. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 48:1903–1904. (article)

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Healey, P., Magnuson, D. (2019). Unlinking prostitution and sex trafficking: Response to commentaries. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 48 (7), 1973–1980. (article)

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Magnus, S, Maurice, R., Flagg, J., Reist, D. (2018). Canadian sex workers weigh the costs and benefits of disclosing their occupational status to health providers. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 16 (3), 329–341. (article)

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M. et al. (2019). “The Prostitution Problem”: Claims, Evidence, and Policy Outcomes. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 48 (7), 1905–1923. (article). 

McCarthy, B., Carter, A., Jansson, M., Benoit, Finnigan, R. (2018). Poverty, material hardship, and mental health among workers in three frontline service occupations. Journal of Poverty (article).

Orchard, T., Murie, A., Elash, H., Bunch, M., Middleton, C., Sadakhom, D., Oiamo, T., Benoit, C. (2o19). “People like us”: Spatialized notions of health, stigma, power, and subjectivity among women in street sex work. Culture, Health & Sexuality. 21(4), 478-494. (article)

Benoit, C., Belle-Isle, L., Smith, M., Phillips, R., Shumka, L., Atchison, C., Jansson, M., & Loppie, C. (2017). Community Empowerment and Transformative Learning among Sex Workers: From health educators to health advocates. CISUR Bulletin #17, Victoria, BC: University of Victoria. (bulletin).

Benoit, C., Jansson, M., Smith, M., Flagg, J.  (2018). Prostitution stigma and its effect on the working conditions, personal lives and health of sex workers. Special issue: Annual Review of Sex Research. Journal of Sex Research55(4-5), 457-471. (article).

Benoit, C., Belle-Isle, L., Smith, M., Phillips, R., Shumka, S., Atchison, C., Jansson, M., Loppie, C., Flagg. J. (2017). Community Empowerment and Transformative Learning among Sex Workers: From Health Educators to Health Advocates. International Journal for Equity in Health. 16:160 (article).

Evans, E., McCarthy, B., Benoit, C., Jansson, M. (2017). Early trauma, long-term consequences: Does family instability keep people from doctors? Social Science Quarterly. 99, 599-615. (article).

Benoit, C., Jansson, M., Smith, M., Flagg, J, (2017). ‘Well, it should be changed for one, because it’s our bodies: Workers’ views on
Canada’s punitive approach towards sex work. Social Sciences. Special Issue "Sex Workers’ Rights: Looking toward the Future". , 6, 52. (article).

Benoit, C., Reist, D. (2017). “I’m a prostitute, so, can you check me?” Exploring sex work stigma in health care. Webinar. Canadian Public Health Association (slides) (recording

Benoit, C., Ouellet, N., Jansson, M., Magnus, S., Smith, M..  (2017). Would you think about doing sex for money? Structure and agency in deciding to sell sex in Canada. Work, Employment & Society. (article)

Roth, E. Benoit, C., Hallgrimsdottir, H., Jansson, M. (2017). Public drinking venues as risk environments: Commercial sex, alcohol and violence in Nairobi, Kenya. Human Ecology. An Interdisciplinary Journal. 45: 277-283. (article)

Benoit, C., Smith, M., Jansson, M., Magnus, S., Ouellet, N., Atchison,  C., Casey, L., Phillips, R., Reimer, B., Reist, D., Shaver, F. (2016). Lack of   confidence in police creates a ‘blue’ ceiling for sex workers’ safety.  Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de politiques. DOI: (article)

Casey, L., McCarthy, B., Phillips, R., Benoit, C., Jansson, M., Magnus, S.,  Atchison, Reimer, B., Reist, D., Shaver, F. (2017). Managing conflict: An  examination of three-way alliances in Canadian escort and massage  businesses. In Third Party Sex Work and "Pimps" in the Age of Anti-Trafficking. (chapter)

Benoit, C., Ouellet, N, & Jansson, M. (2016). Unmet health care needs among sex  workers in five census metropolitan areas of Canada. Canadian Journal of  Public Health. 107 (3), e266–e271.

Rudrum, S., Oliffe, J., Benoit, C. (2016). Discourses of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality in Uganda’s Stand Proud, Get Circumcised campaign. Culture, Health & Sexuality. 8(10): 1-15. (article)

Atchison, C., & P. Burnett, P. (2016). The Social Dynamics of Safe Sex Practices among Canadian Sex Industry Clients. Sociology of Health and Illness. 38(6):1–18. (article)

Atchison, C., Benoit, C., Burnett, P., Jansson, M., Kennedy, M., Ouellet, N., & Vukmirovich, D. (2015). The Influence of Time to Negotiate on Control in Sex Worker-Client Interactions. Research for Sex Work. Vol. 14. (article)

Benoit, C., McCarthy, B., & Jansson, M. (2016). Occupational Stigma and Mental Health: Discrimination and Depression among Front-Line Service Workers. Canadian Public Policy, 41(Supplement 2), S61-S69. (article)

Benoit, C., McCarthy, B. & Jansson, M.  (2015). Stigma, sex work, and substance use: A comparative analysis. Sociology of Health & Illness 37 (3): 437-51. (article)

Benoit, C. (2015). Modern maternity care in Canada. Transition. 45 (4), 3-6. (article)

McCarthy, B., Benoit, C. & Jansson, M. (2014), Sex work: A comparative study. Archives of Sexual Behavior 43: 1379-90. (article)

Phillips, R. & Benoit, C. (2013). Exploring courtesy stigma among frontline care providers serving sex workers. Sociology Insights on Inequities in Health and Health Care. Special issue of Healthcare Policy 9, 139-151. (article)

Roth, E., Ngugli, E., Benoit, C., Hallgrimsdottir, H., & Jansson, M.  (2014). A  reasoned action model of male client involvement in commercial sex work in Kibera, a large informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Human Organization.73, 174-182. (article)

Benoit, C., Ngugi, E., Roth, E., Jansson, M., Hallgrimsdottir, Sharpe, K. (2014). Benefits and constraints of intimate partnerships for HIV positive sex workers in Kibera, Kenya. International Journal for Equity in Health. 12:76 doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-76. (article)

McCarthy, B., Benoit, C., & Jansson, M. (2012). Regulating sex work: Heterogeneity in legal strategies for controlling prostitution. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 8, 255–71. (article)

Ngugi, E., Benoit, C., Hallgrimsdottir, H., Jansson, M., & Roth, E. (2012). Family kinship patterns and sex work involvement among women from the informal urban settlement of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. Human Ecology. 40, 397–403. (artilce)

Ngugi, E., Benoit, C., Hallgrimsdottir, H., Jansson, M. & Roth, E. (2012). Partners and clients of female sex workers in an informal urban settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Culture, Health & Sexuality 14, 17-30. (article)

Phillips, R., Benoit, C., Vallance, K., & Hallgrimsdottir, H. (2012). Courtesy stigma: A hidden health concern among frontline service providers to sex workers. Sociology of Health & Illness. 34, 681–696. (article)

Jansson, M., Benoit, C., Casey, L., Phillips, R. & Burns, D. (2010). In for the long haul: Knowledge translation between academic and non-profit organizations. Qualitative Health Research,20, 131–143. (article)

Hallgrimsdottir, H., Phillips, R., Benoit, C., & Walby, K. (2008). Sporting girls, streetwalkers, and inmates of houses of ill-repute: Media narratives and the historical mutability of prostitution stigmas. Sociological Perspectives, 51(1), 119-138. (article)

Shumka, L. & Benoit, C. (2007). Social suffering and gaps in alternative health care for vulnerable women workers. Sociology of Health Care, 25, 255-278. (article)

Hallgrimsdottir, H., Phillips, R. & Benoit, C. (2006). Fallen women and rescued girls: Social stigma and media narratives of the sex industry in Victoria, BC, from 1980 to 2005. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology,Special Issue, 43(3), 265-280. (article)

Benoit, C, Jansson, M., Millar, A. & and Phillips, R. (2005). Community-academic research on hard-to-reach populations: Benefits and challenges. Qualitative Health Research, 15(2), 263-282. (article)

Phillips, R. & Benoit, C. (2005). Social determinants of health care access among sex industry workers in Canada. Sociology of Health Care, 23, 79-104. (article)

Benoit, C. & Millar, A. (2001). Dispelling myths and understanding realities: Working conditions, health status, and exiting experiences of sex workers. Sponsored by PEERS. Funded by BC Health Research Foundation, Capital Health District, and BC Centre of Excellence on Women's Health. (full report) (technical report/questionnaire)


Recent team grant releases:

Science Fact or Science Fiction: Are All Sex Workers Victimized?

Throughout much of the world, sex work is often regarded as a dangerous and exploitive profession. While sex workers are more likely to experience violence and poor health than the general population, is it accurate to depict all sex workers as victims? Are violence and poor health inherent to the nature of such work, or are they the products of punitive laws and inadequate social conditions? What do we really know about the experiences of sex workers in Canada? Read more.... English French

Team Grant Working Paper Summary Report.

Ouellet, N. Benoit, C. 2014. Building on the Evidence: An International Symposium on the Sex Industry in Canada. Summary Report. Read more English French


Team Grant Working Paper

We are pleased to present some preliminary findings from our Team Grant in our working paper. We will be discussing and ciritically assessing our findings at our symposium in Ottawa on September 22, 2014 entitled, Building on the Evidence: An International Symposiumon the Sex Industry in Canada. In the document you will find a link to provide feedback on the report. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sex Industry Legislation Perpetuates Stereotypes: Study

University of Victoria researchers have highlighted preliminary findings from the largest and most comprehensive study of the sex industry undertaken in Canada in a brief (English version/French version) to the Justice and Human Rights Committee, which is poised to begin examination of Bill C-36—the proposed legislation governing the sex industry—in Ottawa on July 7.


Please forward your questions and feedback on the Team Grant working paper to the Understanding Sex Work research team.