Criminalizing Sex Work Clients and Rushed Negotiations among Sex Workers Who Use Drugs in a Canadian Setting

Landsberg, A., Shannon, K., Krüsi, A., DeBeck, K., Milloy, M., Nosova, E., Hayashi, K., Criminalizing Sex Work Clients and Rushed Negotiations Among Sex Workers Who Use Drugs in a Canadian Setting, Journal of Urban Health, 94(4), 563-571, (2017). Avbl. at:

Findings from Advocating Opportunity’s “END DEMAND LITERATURE – DESK REVIEW” (Compiled by: Emily Dunlap, Komal Hans, and Donna Hoffman with contributions from: Kate D’Adamo and Megan K. Mattimoe):

“…[T]here was a significant increase in reports of rushing client negotiation after the guideline change among women. Other variables that were independently associated with increased odds of rushing client negotiation included experiencing client-perpetrated violence (among both men and women) and non-heterosexual orientation (among women). These findings indicate that despite the policing guideline change, rushed client negotiation due to police presence appeared to have increased among our sample of female sex workers who use drugs. It was also associated with client-perpetrated violence and other markers of vulnerability. These findings lend further evidence that criminalizing the purchase of sexual services does not protect the health and safety of sex workers.” (Abstract, p. 563) (emphasis added).

“Approximately one quarter of sex workers who use drugs in our sample reported rushed negotiation with clients due to police presence at least once between 2008 and 2014.” “…[S]ince the new enforcement guideline adopted by the VPD in 2013, reports of rushing client negotiation due to police presence have significantly increased among female sex workers. After extensive confounder adjustment, experiencing client-perpetrated violence remained associated with rushing negotiation with clients among both male and female sex workers. In addition, self-identifying as non-heterosexual (among women only) was independently correlated with rushing client negotiation.” (p. 566) (emphasis added).

“We sought to investigate the trends and correlates of rushing negotiations with clients due to police presence among 359 sex workers who use drugs in Vancouver before and after the guideline change. Data were derived from three prospective cohort studies of people who use drugs in Vancouver between 2008 and 2014. We used sex-stratified multivariable generalized estimating equation models.” (p. 563). “The primary outcome measure was ‘rushed client negotiation’ defined as rushing negotiations with a sex work client in a public space due to police presence in the previous 6 months.” (p. 565).

“Canada, as other countries and jurisdictions globally, has increasingly turned to the ‘End Demand’ approaches (or the ‘Nordic Model’) that have been implemented in several European countries, which focus on criminalizing and targeting the client of sex workers and third parties (e.g., managers). Adopting this “end demand” approach, in January of 2013, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) created a new enforcement guideline that was intended to prioritize the safety of and prevent violence against sex workers, but continued to target clients and third parties, while de-prioritizing the targeting of sex workers, except in cases of last resort.” (p. 564).

“Previous research demonstrated that there was no statistically significant change in the rates of physical and sexual violence reported by street-involved sex workers in this setting 8 months before and after this policy change.” (p. 564).