Sociologist Wins $100K Award for Work On Sex Workers Health Care

LOS ANGELES—A Canadian sociologist who has devoted much of her career to researching and improving health and job conditions faced by sex workers has been recognized for her work with a prestigious, $100,000 prize from Canada’s Council on the Arts. Cecilia Benoit was one of five recipients of the Killam Prize, the Council announced this week. The prize honors scholars across Canada for their contributions to the humanities, science, social science, health research and engineering.  Benoit is a sociologist at the Canadian Institute For Substance Abuse Research at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia. She was honored by the Arts Council for her work on the health care disparities faced by sex workers, and how the societal stigma against sex work affects the quality of care they receive in the health care system — a situation she says has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Without addressing those stigmas and inequities in the health care system, Canada will likely see a new surge in coronavirus infections, Benoit predicts. “We have to improve the life situation and access to resources … for the most marginalized, because they’re the most susceptible to be exposed to this illness and then have the most difficulty dealing with it,” she told The Times Colonist newspaper. “With good useful knowledge and with progressive policy, we actually can reduce (the stigma) and improve the lives of people or change laws. It just brings a lot of joy to me, so I want to do that work as long as I can.” In 2018, Benoit received a $250,000 fellowship from the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, named for Canada’s former prime minister, to engage with sex workers at a grass-roots level, with the goal of “empowering sex workers as social justice advocates.” The year before receiving the fellowship, Benoit published a major study in The Journal of Sex Research, exploring how the social stigma against sex work manifests in the “negative effect on the working conditions, personal lives, and health of sex workers.” In another project, “Understanding Sex Work: A Health and Community Partnership,” Benoit led a team or researchers and commiunity activists “to understand better what our society can do to help improve the environments and lives of people associated with Canada’s sex industry.” Photo by Cecilia Benoit Facebook 

written by: Michael French

source: Sociologist Wins $100K Award for Work On Sex Workers Health Care | AVN