Experiences of Aboriginal women involved in street prostitution in Saskatchewan : A case study
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Many Aboriginal women in Canada go missing each year and many of them are engaged in the sex trade industry. Thus far, little has been done to prevent this trend. This study is aimed at filling this gap by exploring and highlighting several challenges confronted by Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) Aboriginal women who are engaged in sex work. Existing literature indicate an overrepresentation of Aboriginal women involved in sex work, their experiences of abuse while working on the street, and their lack of adequate protection from law enforcement agents and members of the Canadian Criminal Justice System (CCJS). The overall theoretical framework of this thesis is intersectionality theory with focus on the compound oppression faced by Aboriginal prostitutes due to the intersection of gender, race, and socio-economic class. This study examines the reasons for Aboriginal women’s overrepresentation in street prostitution, their experiences while working on the streets, and how they are treated by the CCJS. The three main questions addressed in the study are: a) Why are Aboriginal women overrepresented in the sex trade industry in Saskatchewan?; b) Do Aboriginal women involved in prostitution confront violence from clients and other members of the society? If so, why?; and c) Do Aboriginal women sex workers receive protection and justice from law enforcement agents and members of the CCJS? If so how, and if not, why? First, these questions are explored through semi-structured, open-ended interviews with two Aboriginal women who have been involved in street prostitution in Saskatchewan. Second, content analysis of three court transcripts of cases where men were charged with violence towards Aboriginal women working in the sex trade in Saskatchewan is conducted. The results of this study indicate that Aboriginal women are highly overrepresented in the Saskatchewan sex trade for reasons that include: a) childhood sexual abuse and b) lack of options due to the multiple oppression of the intersection of gender, race, and class. And that Aboriginal sex workers encounter severe violence and abuse on the street including rape and death with limited protection and justice from the CCJS due to multiple forms of oppression as racialized women living in poverty. The study’s results provide an understanding of how the intersection of race, class and gender impact the experiences of Aboriginal women in the sex trade industry. The study’s findings also allow for the recommendation of strategies for dealing with these issues and preventing these trends from continuing in the future.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeCheng, Hongming; Zong, Li; Feng, Cindy
Copyright DateMarch 2014