Understanding the experience of transactional sex among young women in Winnipeg and its implications for health policy

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Cheng, Dianne
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While there is evidence that young women involved in transactional sex face economical, emotional and health disadvantages, few studies have examined young women’s understanding and knowledge of risky behaviours (e.g., substance abuse, acquiring sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, etc.) and how these influence their health and well-being. The debate on the definitions, relevance, and causes of transactional sex, as well as on the approaches to address it, is ongoing. There is considerable agreement that sexual exchange needs to be addressed from a variety of contexts to obtain a comprehensive picture of how women understand their experience. This qualitative study used phenomenological techniques (interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, observation, and field notes) to collect data and conduct analysis on 15 young women between the ages of 18 and 27. The focus of the study was to explore issues of health and social services as identified by young women involved in transactional sex. This study enabled them to discuss the struggles they encounter (such as issues related to housing, addictions, employment opportunities, and skills level). Findings from the study identified issues that may help to develop programs and policies to provide better supports to young women involved in transactional sex.
transactional sex, sexual exchange