When Street Sex Workers Are Mothers


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Abstract

Many women who engage in street sex work experience pregnancies and become mothers. Unfortunately, little research has examined how their pregnancies and parenting impact themselves as street sex workers and their street sex work. In this qualitative research study, 16 mothers who were currently involved in street sex work in a Midwestern city of the United States participated in semistructured interviews. These mothers discussed how being pregnant or parenting while regularly working the street caused them to feel ashamed of themselves and their work and anxious for their own and their children's safety. Pregnancies and parenting responsibilities reportedly altered their working productivity and practices. Given how frequently they had been separated from their children, they also talked about ways in which these separations resulted in them having more free time and need for drugs, which led to them increasing the amount they worked the street. It is evident from these interviews that street sex workers who are mothers have unique needs and experiences that must be considered by researchers, policy makers, and service providers.

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