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26 Jan 2013
Week # 4: Female Sex Workers and the Social Context of Workplace Violence in
Tijuana, Mexico by Katsulis et al
Gender-based violence is the work place impacts the physical and emotional
wellbeing of sex workers and may lead to other health problems such as PTSD and
depression, drug abuse and a greater likelihood of sexually transmitted infections
This study looks at social context of workplace violence and risk avoidance in the
context of legal regulations meant to reduce harms associated with the industry
Ethnographic research
Themes found deciding where to work, working with a third party, avoiding economic
losses, and dealing with police
There is a hierarchy of risk with trade-offs of increasing some risks to avoid or minimize other
Sex workers employ certain strategies to avoid risk and it is a form of harm reduction
There is no point framing prostitution as violence because it doesn’t further our understanding
of the social context of this work as well as the strategies for risk avoidance used
Commercial sex industry in Tijuana came into existence primarily to serve the sexual
needs, desires and fantasies of American Men during the prohibition era and the
crackdown on red light districts in the US cities near the border
There is a rapid flow of transport and male migrant workers travelling through here
Sex work in Tijuana has a QUASILEGAL status
o Not illegal or legal, but sex workers must carry a health card that is obtained
via a clinic where they must show birth certificate, photo ID, and service fee
as a part of the registration process. Sex workers must also pay for health
screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted STIs
o Without health card = verbal warnings, fines or jail time
o Employers with employees with health card = warnings, fines, and eventual
Range of Topics
o Demographic information
o Work experiences
o Experiences of workplace violence, harm reduction strategies and
relationships with co workers
o Household investment strategies an future career aspirations
o Nature of relationships with police and customers
o Drug and sexual risk behaviours
o Mental health outcomes
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