Researchers have released what’s being called the first national report on the sex industry in Canada—and some of its findings may surprise you.
The working paper, whose lead author is Cecilia Benoit of the University of Victoria, will be discussed at an international symposium in Ottawa on September 22 and 23. It’s based on five studies undertaken in St. John’s, Montréal, Kitchener, Fort McMurray, Calgary, and Victoria.
“Based on our study, many of the people linked to Canada’s sex industry—workers and their intimate partners, managers and clients—have much in common with other Canadians. By and large, they are Canadian-born, Caucasian, in their 30s or 40s with a high school diploma and some form of post-secondary education or training,” the report states.
Here’s 17 interesting findings from the paper. All figures correspond to study participants only.
• The median income is $39,500 for sex workers, $42,000 for managers, and $60,000 for sex buyers.
• The average age of sex workers’ first sale was 26 years old, and the median age of sex buyers’ first purchase was 25 years old.
• 29 percent of sex workers first sold a sexual service before the age of 19.
• The average sex worker has 10 years of experience, and the average sex buyer has 16 years of experience.
• 89 percent of sex workers were born in Canada.
• 29 percent of sex workers spent some of their childhood in foster care or another form of government care.
• 67 percent of sex workers finished high school, and 15 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more.
• 77 percent of sex workers identify as women, 17 percent as men, and 6 percent as other genders.
• 66 percent of sex workers report a different gender presentation on the job than in their personal lives. (“Most reported they are more feminine in their work lives.”)
• 45 percent of sex workers identify as straight, 38 percent as bisexual or bi-curious, 6 percent as gay or lesbian, and 11 percent as other sexual orientations.
• Sex buyers purchase a sexual service a median of four times a year.
• 65 percent of sex buyers used in-call services in the past year, 55 percent visited massage parlours, 39 percent used out-call services, while only 17 percent bought sex on the street.
• 20 percent of sex workers rated their job as very or extremely stressful; in contrast, 43 percent of sex workers ranked their personal lives as very or extremely stressful.
• 97 percent of sex workers have been tested for HIV/AIDs, compared to 68 percent of sex buyers.
• 69 percent of sex workers reported using a condom every time they had sex with a client in the last month.
• 15 percent of sex workers had at least one sex-work-related injury, but only 1 percent of injured sex workers had submitted a sex-work-related claim to the Workers Compensation Board.
• 99 percent of sex buyers are in favour of legalizing prostitution.