The ways in which sex workers have been studied and represented historically, socio-politically and academically do not take into account their voices and participation in the process. Arts-based research provides the potential for collaboratively developing unique knowledge and insight about the experiences of sex workers and the meanings assigned to those experiences. The purpose of this arts-based, photovoice research study is to illustrate the experiences of sex workers through the inclusion of their images and voices in order to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and aspirations of sex workers in Portland, Oregon. The objective is to identify their issues of importance and to provide this information in an art exhibit to inform policymakers about issues of concern to female sex workers. The method of photovoice, created by Wang& Burris (1997), entails giving cameras to individuals who will use photography to identify, represent, and enhance their community. The three main goals of photovoice are (1) to enable people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns, (2) to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about important community issues through individual and small group discussions of photographs, and (3) to reach influential community advocates and people who can be mobilized for change (Wang & Burris, 1997).
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