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Women Trading Sex in a U.S.-Mexico Border City: A Qualitative Study of the Barriers and Facilitators to Finding Community and Voice

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College of Health and Human Services, San Diego State University School of Social Work, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
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Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science, San Diego State University School of Public Health, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
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Center on Gender Equity and Health, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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Center for Justice and Reconciliation, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
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Casa del Centro and the Wound Clinic, 22000 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
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Instituto Chihuahuense de Salud Mental, 31000 Chihuahua, Mexico
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School of Medicine and Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, 21289 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 July 2020 / Revised: 30 August 2020 / Accepted: 8 September 2020 / Published: 15 September 2020
Poverty and income inequality can increase a woman’s decision to engage in risky transactional sex, and may lead to unimaginable harms, such as violence, substance use, and human trafficking. This study examines the facilitators and barriers to finding community and voice among women trading sex in Tijuana, Mexico, and what factors, such as socio-structural support, violence, and substance use, may impact their potential to engage with others, including human service providers. Sixty qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with women trading sex in Tijuana, Mexico. Researchers met with participants for in-depth-face-to-face structured interviews. Data were coded using ATLAS.ti. Participants were aged 19–73 (mean: 37), 98% were of Mexican nationality, 90% reported trading sex independent of the control of others, with 58% identified as independent and street-based. Thirty percent of women trading sex reported substance use (excluding marijuana) and 20% reported injection drug use within 30 days. The majority reported no involvement in mobilization activities, but 85% expressed interest. However, barriers included stigma, cultural gender norms, partner violence, and privacy in regards to disclosure of sex trade involvement, moral conflict (revealing one’s involvement in sex trade), involvement in substance use, human trafficking, and feeling powerless. Facilitators were having a safe space to meet, peer support, self-esteem, feeling heard, knowledge of rights, economic need to support families, and staying healthy. Findings imply the potential to go beyond mobilizing limited groups of women in the sex trade and instead involve whole community mobilization; that is, to reach and include the more vulnerable women (substance use, trafficked) in supportive services (social services, exit strategies, better healthcare opportunities, and/or education for healthcare providers to help break societal stigmas regarding women in the sex trade) and to change the status of women in society in general. View Full-Text
Keywords: women; sex trade; violence; substance use; community mobilization; human trafficking; HIV; STI women; sex trade; violence; substance use; community mobilization; human trafficking; HIV; STI
MDPI and ACS Style

Gonzalez, C.; Brouwer, K.C.; Reed, E.; Nicholls, M.J.; Kim, J.; Gonzalez-Zuniga, P.E.; Gaeta-Rivera, A.; Urada, L.A. Women Trading Sex in a U.S.-Mexico Border City: A Qualitative Study of the Barriers and Facilitators to Finding Community and Voice. Sexes 2020, 1, 1-18. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes1010001

AMA Style

Gonzalez C, Brouwer KC, Reed E, Nicholls MJ, Kim J, Gonzalez-Zuniga PE, Gaeta-Rivera A, Urada LA. Women Trading Sex in a U.S.-Mexico Border City: A Qualitative Study of the Barriers and Facilitators to Finding Community and Voice. Sexes. 2020; 1(1):1-18. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes1010001

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gonzalez, Claudia, Kimberly C. Brouwer, Elizabeth Reed, Melanie J. Nicholls, Jessica Kim, Patricia E. Gonzalez-Zuniga, Andrés Gaeta-Rivera, and Lianne A. Urada 2020. "Women Trading Sex in a U.S.-Mexico Border City: A Qualitative Study of the Barriers and Facilitators to Finding Community and Voice" Sexes 1, no. 1: 1-18. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/sexes1010001

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