The Story of Female Sex Workers in The Shadow of Sex Work Coercion: A Qualitative Study 

Zahra Boroumandfar, Reza Esmaeili, Negar Mohaghegh


Background: What has been less considered in the literature of the sex work research, especially in Iran, is to look at the causes of sex work from the perspective of women. The present study sought to understand the causes of the problem and the experience of female sex workers.

Methods: The present study was conducted by using qualitative method. Twenty‑eight sex workers participated in the study voluntarily and with informed consent. The researcher conducted deep semistructured interviews. Purposive sampling continued until data saturation was reached. Conventional content analysis of the transcribed interviews and field notes were performed to identify key themes, first by each of researchers separately and then in joint discussions.

Results: The main theme of the study, according to the participants, was the sense of “what pushed me into sex worker” which included the five main categories of “despair, psychic restlessness, getting drunk by alcohol and drug, incomplete families, not to be left behind by the sudden social changes.”

Conclusions: Social and health consequences, especially reproductive health of female sex, workers are affected by several factors. However, to deal with this social and health problems, specific attention should be paid to social factors affecting health. Accordingly, each of the influential variables known in this study could be a target for the country’s intervention programs, especially in public health centers and even charities related to the healthcare counseling of sex workers.



Coercion, sex work, women

Full Text:



Andrade E, Leyva R, Kwan MP, Magis C, Stainez Orozco H, Brouwer K. Women in sex work and the risk environment: Agency, risk perception, and management in the sex work environments of two Mexico US border cities. Sex Res Social Policy 2019;16:317 28.

Exploring the semantics of prostitution in the lived experience of prostitutes: a qualitative study. Journal of Women and Society 2021;11:279 306.

Moran R, Farley M. Consent, coercion, and culpability: Is prostitution stigmatized work or an exploitive and violent practice rooted in sex, race, and class inequality? Arch Sex Behav 2019;48:1947 53.

Boroumandfar Z, Kianpour M, Afshari M. Ups and downs of drug rehab among women: A qualitative study. BMC Womens Health 2020;20:77

Wurcel AG, Burke D, Skeer M, Landy D, Heimer R, Wong JB, et al. Sex work, injection drug use, and abscesses: Associations in women, but not men. Drug Alcohol Depend 2018;185:293 7.

Barker B, Hadland SE, Dong H, Shannon K, Kerr T, DeBeck K. Increased burden of suicidality among young street involved sex workers who use drugs in Vancouver, Canada. J Public Health (Oxf) 2019;41:e152 7.

Benoit C, Smith M, Magnus JM, Flagg JS, Maurice R. Sex work and three dimensions of self esteem: Self worth, authenticity and self efficacy. Cult Health Sex 2018;20:69 83.

Emmanuel F, Salim M, Akhtar N, Arshad S, Reza TE. Second generation surveillance for HIV/AIDS in Pakistan: Results from the 4th round of Integrated Behavior and Biological Survey 2011–2012. Sex Transm Infect 2013;89(Suppl 3):iii23 8.

Liu M. Chinese migrant women in the sex industry: Exploring their paths to prostitution. Fem Criminol 2012;7:327 49.

Karandikar S, Gezinski LB, Meshelemiah JC. A qualitative examination of women involved in prostitution in Mumbai, India: The role of family and acquaintances. Int Soc Work 2013;56:496 515.

Rahmani K, Bedarpor F, Moradi K, Karemi M, Mola Seki M. Female sex workers’ experiences of risky behaviors, and the causes of these behaviors from their viewpoints: A qualitative study. J Qual Res Health Sci 2020;5:326 36.

Movahed M, Moaven Z, Shahbazi N. Explore the meaning of prostitution in the prostitutes lived experience: A qualitative study. Q J Women Soc 2020;11:279 306.

Boroumandfa Z, Kianpour M, Zargham A, Abdoli S, Tayeri K, Salehi M, et al. Changing beliefs and behaviors related to sexually transmitted diseases in vulnerable women: A qualitative study. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res 2017;22:303 7.

Streubert HJ, Carpenter DR. Qualitative Research in Nursing. Philadephia: Lippncott; 2011.

Shdaimah CS, Wiechelt, SA. Crime and compassion: Women in sex worker at the intersection of criminality and victimization. Int Rev Victimol 2013;19:23 35.

Campeau L, Blouin K, Leclerc P, Alary M, Morissette C, Blanchette C, et al. Impact of sex work on risk behaviours and their association with HIV positivity among people who inject drugs in Eastern Central Canada: Cross sectional results from an open cohort study. BMJ Open 2018;8:e019388.

Madani Ghahfarkhi S. Sociology of Sex Worker A Study of Social Harms. Tehran: Parseh Book Publishing; 2016.

Bongaarts J, Mensch BS, Blanc AK. Trends in the age at reproductive transitions in the developing world: The role of education. Popul Stud (Camb) 2017;71:139 54.

Santhya KG, Jejeebhoy SJ. Sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls: Evidence from low and middle income countries. Global Public Health 2015;10:189 221.

Royal Common wealth. Eradicating Child Marriage in the Commonwealth: Is Investment in Girls’ Education Sufficient? 2017. Available from: https://www.commonwealthroundtable. child marriage common wealth investment girls education sufficient/.

Rostamzadeh E, Mohseni F, Rahim RA. Social perspective and causal factors influencing women prostitution in Iran. Asian Soc Sci 2016;12:106 16.

Sotoudeh H. Social pathology (Sociology of Deviations). 24th ed. Tehran: Avi Noor Publishing; 2016.

Ding Y. Beyond sex/work: Understanding work and identity of female sex workers in South China. Soc Incl 2020;8:95 103.

Karamouzian M, Foroozanfar Z, Ahmadi A, Haghdoost AA, Vogel J, Zolala F. How sex work becomes an option: Experiences of female sex workers in Kerman, Iran. Cult Health Sex 2016;18:58 70.


  • There are currently no refbacks.