M is for MUTUAL, A is for ACTS

14. Male Sex Work and Childhood Sexual Abuse in Canada
Male Sex Work and Childhood Sexual Abuse in Canada

In Canada there is continued debate as to the number of Canadian males who have experienced threat or force as part of their lifetime sexual experience. Some researchers believe that the experience of threat or force subsequently influences the potential for involvement in male sex work as well as participation in sexual activities which pose a high risk for HIV infection. However, such an association has yet to be demonstrated.

The relationship between child sexual abuse and male sex work is unclear. While some assert that all young people involved in prostitution are "victims of sexual abuse,"204 others believe that sex work, for some youth, is a viable career option.205

A national population survey conducted in 1983 found that one in five Canadian males reported that their first sexual experience had involved the use of threat or force, and slightly fewer than one in three had experienced sex involving threat or force at least once in their lifetimes.206

The Badgley Committee (1984) found that by age 11, over half of the younger male sex workers had already had their first sexual experience, and in general, more than three-quarters of the male sex workers were sexually active by age 13.207

Discussing the Badgley Report, Lowman (1987) wrote that male sex workers "were twice as likely to have experienced a first unwanted sexual act involving force or threats of force within their family as other members of the Canadian population."208

However, the Fraser Committee (1985) concluded that, in terms of child sexual abuse, the experiences of younger sex workers are similar to those of other Canadian children and youths:

When we conclude, therefore, that prostitutes do not appear to have higher levels of being sexually abused as children, it is not because they are unlikely to have been abused, but because it appears to be such a common phenomenon in our society.209

This is in contrast to the findings of the Vanguard Study (1996), according to which 51% of 92 younger men who were currently exchanging sex for money, drugs, goods, clothing, shelter or protection reported having experienced nonconsensual sex, compared to 31% of 589 younger men in the rest of the sample.210 The Vanguard Study concluded that sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence was clearly associated with male sex work and may also be associated with increased HIV risk behaviour. However, due to the study's broad definition of sex work, such a conclusion may be premature.


  1. Task Force on Children Involved in Prostitution, Children Involved in Prostitution, Alberta, Minister of Family and Social Services, 1997. [back]
205. International Conference on Prostitution and Other Sex Work, Participation Kit, Montreal, Quebec Public Interest Research Group at McGill University, 1996.

206. Peat, Marwick and Partners, A National Population Study of Prostitution and Pornography, Ottawa, Department of Justice, 1984.

207. Badgley Committee (Committee on Sexual Offences against Children and Youth), Sexual Offences against Children, Ottawa, Department of Supply and Services, 1984.

208. Lowman, J., "Taking Young Prostitutes Seriously," Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 1987, 24, 1, p. 103.

209. Fraser Committee (Special Commi-ttee on Pornography and Prostitution), Pornography and Prostitution in Canada, Ottawa, Department of Supply and Services, 1985, pp. 373-74.

210. Strathdee, S. A., Hogg, R. S., Martindale, S. L., Cornelisse, P. G. A., Craib, K., Schilder, A., Montaner, J. S. G., O'Shaughnessy, M. V. and Schechter, M. T., Sexual Abuse is an Independent Predictor of Sexual Risk-Taking Among Young HIV-Negative Gay Men: Results from a Prospective Study at Baseline, paper presented to the XIth International Conference on AIDS, Vancouver, July 1996.

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Created: February 5, 2000
Last modified: February 5, 2000
Walnet Dan Allman
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