Rachel Stuart on the Unmet Health Needs of London Sex Workers


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Doctors of the World, also known as Médecins du Monde, is an international network of more than 400 programmes across 80 different countries, providing emergency and long term medical care to the world's most vulnerable people. Whether it's urgent response in the Ukraine, mental healthcare to refugees in Calais, or strengthening the health systems in west Africa, DOTW respond based on the needs of the people they work with. In the UK, Doctors of the World run clinic and advocacy programmes in London that provide medical care, information and practical support to people often excluded from wider society such as destitute migrants, sex workers and people with no fixed abode.

Their recent report Left out in the Cold: The extreme unmet health and service needs of street sex workers in East London before and during the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the devastating challenges that street sex workers have in accessing essential healthcare services, resulting in poor health outcomes. Rachel Stuart, one of the report's researchers and authors, spent 18 months speaking to women in Newham, East London, and she talks about the senseless violence and avoidable health issues faced by the women sex working there.

Victoria Holt is a PhD student at the University of Roehampton researching sex workers' experiences of domestic violence. I'm co-convenor for the British Sociological Association's Violence Against Women and Girls study group, and a board member for the Sex Work Research Hub.

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