Backgrounder: Health conditions of sex trade workers to be studied

Dr. Cecilia Benoit, Lead Researcher

A sociologist, Dr. Cecilia Benoit's research focuses on the relationship between health and work, primarily that of women in health care professions, as well as the gender underpinnings of welfare states in select Western countries. She is currently wrapping up a two-year term as a member of the provincial Minister's Advisory Council on Women's Health and is the west coast partner and member of the steering committee of the National Network on Environments and Women's Health, based at York University in Toronto. Benoit has conducted extensive research on midwives in Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland. She is the author of two research-based books&emdash;Midwives in Passage: The Modernization of Maternity Care (1991) and Women, Work and Social Rights: Canada in Historical and Comparative Perspective (1999), as well as the co-author of a recent text book, Society: The Basics, Canadian Edition (1999). Benoit is also the assistant director, academic in UVic's office of international affairs.

Megan Lewis, PEERS Support Worker and Spokesperson

Megan Lewis has been a key figure of the Prostitutes' Empowerment, Education and Resource Society since 1995. She became involved with PEERS shortly after ending an 11-year engagement in the sex trade. Lewis has been actively involved in many relevant community projects including "Out From the Shadows&emdash;A Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth," and "Sexually Exploited Youth in the Capital Health Region," and acts as a spokesperson for PEERS, putting a face to an often faceless issue. Lewis strives to educate the larger community, helping to combat the stigma and isolation sex trade workers experience.

Judy Lightwater, Project Manager

Judy Lightwater brings a background in social planning, coalition building, women's services and community economic development work to this project. Since 1988 she has assisted non-profit groups with fundraising, project development, proposal writing, and organizational capacity building. She has taught non-profit management at Vancouver Community College for 10 years. Lightwater is a founder of the Greater Victoria Women's Shelter Society. She has done women's business counselling, and advocated on behalf of women's right to safety at home and in public life. Lightwater is currently doing public education on gender apartheid and human rights abuses in Afghanistan.

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Keywords: health, conditions, sex, trade, workers, studied

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