Faculty Member's Study Sheds Light on Canadian Sex Industry

Dr Stacy Hannem
Dr Stacy Hannem

Wilfrid Laurier University Criminology professor, Dr. Stacey Hannem isn’t afraid to talk about sex. Last year, she worked with Resources Education Advocacy for Local sex work (REAL)  studying sex workers and their lives. Victoria Gray, BrantNews.com reports Hannem focused on the Brantford, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk region. The study focused on sex work as a professional industry rather than a taboo/criminal enterprise.

“Many of these sex workers view sex work as a job, as a means to make money and take care of their families,” Hannem told Brant News.

Hannem’s study was based on 30 interviews with sex workers, The majority of respondents were women, 24 out of the 30 participants.  Much of the business occurs through referrals which made finding research participants difficult. The interview pool is diverse in age ranging from 19 to 53 years. The time individuals have spent in the sex work field is also varied with some participants brand new to the industry at one year of experience to industry veterans with twenty years in the field. According to Brant News, respondents found the sex work field brought in more income and was more accessible than a minimum wage job.

Hannem emphasizes the difference between coercion and choice in the sex work field. ““It's important to remember that sex workers are making a choice and that's the distinction between sex work and trafficking or coercion,” Hannem notes.

Hannem goes on to explain Canadian laws differ from their U.S. counterparts. In Canada, third parties such as those seeking out a sex worker or an individual who manages the transactions of sex workers are penalized rather than the individual sex worker. In the U.S. prostitution is illegal and the focus is on the sex worker as well as individuals involved in sex work transactions.

Hannem has been a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University for more than five years. Her doctorate focus was sociology at Carleton University and master of arts in criminology from University of Ottawa. In addition to her work as a faculty member, Hannem is a member of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association and the chair of its Policy Review Committee. She has published numerous articles not only on sex work but also on drug scanning as well as how incarceration affects family dynamics.

Individuals interested in criminology and Hannem’s work may want to consider the Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing. Offered 100% online, the degree is for any individual interested in the reason why crimes happen. The program offers individuals a chance to understand and potentially enter the field of public safety. For more information contact us directly.