The psychosocial experiences of women involved in prostitution: an exploratory study
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This exploratory research examines the barriers that prevent women in prostitution in Ireland from accessing co-ordinated health services. Through the examination of the experiences of women engaged in prostitution, by using an adapted voice centred relational model of analyses, underpinning a feminist standpoint epistemology theoretical framework, the research contributes to Irish knowledge and, in particular, pertaining to the psychosocial experiences of women involved in prostitution and the Irish healthcare service. Women in prostitution in Galway and its environs were interviewed using a biographical narrative approach. A further seven agencies in the field of prostitution were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. These agencies' were local, national and European and were included to support the research in locating prostitution within a wider ecological perspective and to identify the current socio-political realities. The findings indicate that women involved in prostitution are primarily working indoors, hold precarious legal status and are in Ireland as a response to global migration and economic necessity. The women discussed their fears in respect to clients and organisers of prostitution and the impact of minimal supports available to them. Street prostitution, too, remains evident with a strong link to family breakdown and addiction. The research concludes the need for further service development throughout the country of Ireland that is respectful to the various social determinants which impact on the lives of women in prostitution. Poverty, migration and the global trends of the sex industry can be addressed through a gendered reform of policies using an ecological framework for health. A review of current services nationally of healthcare providers in health, social work and community development fields is required. This research has profound implications for future studies in the field of Irish prostitution to inform practice and broaden the debate on prostitution here.
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