How Sex Workers Understand Their Experiences of Working in the Republic of Ireland

Adeline Berry, Patricia Frazer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study seeks to explore the ways in which sex workers understand their experiences of working under sex work legislation in the Republic of Ireland, including laws that criminalise the purchase of sexual services. Participants reflected on their experiences of working in Ireland both and after the passing of [the] Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. In 2017, the Republic of Ireland criminalised the purchase of sexual services and increased fines and sentences for brothel keeping.

In 2020, semi-structured interviews lasting 60 to 90 min were conducted with 6 sex workers from diverse backgrounds, ages 24–44, actively working in Ireland since 2017. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcriptions were used to conduct an interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Seven themes arose from the data: psychological wellbeing, relationships with law enforcement, relationships with friends and family, the effects of client criminalisation laws on clients, benefits of sex work community, stress related to precarious accommodation and experiences of both discrimination and perceived discrimination.

Changes to sex work legislation appear to have failed in their mission to improve life for sex workers in Ireland. Other options such as decriminalisation should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-884
Number of pages16
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number4
Early online date3 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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