The SHANTUSI project was an action-research project that engaged with individuals in the unregulated sex industry to ascertain some understanding of levels of HIV.
Inner South Community Health Service
The project also aimed to ascertain the broader notion of ‘need’ on the part of those involved.
Field research was conducted over the course of 12 months and 145 individuals gave of their time and experiences to contribute to our understandings of the street-based sex market, migrant workers in the illicit sex market and individuals who negotiate the sale of sexual services via the internet.
While there were numerous key findings to emerge from SHANTUSI, the link between these findings was that those who are at risk of exposure to sexually transmissible disease and vulnerable to harm as a consequence of their involvement in the unregulated sex industry are not in such a position due to decisions or a ‘lifestyle choice’ they have made. Those whose lives are characterised by ill health, poverty, homelessness and drug dependence did not make ‘choices’ to survive by selling sex. Rather, their vulnerability is a result of inequality, disadvantage and abuse. Their lived experiences will only be addressed when policy recognises ‘involuntary’ involvement in the unregulated sex industry as a response to need.
Key RMIT researchers: James Rowe