An action research project with sex workers peer educators: collaboration as a key issue for success
(University of Porto)
Paper short abstract:
This paper presents a description of a pilot project of sex workers peer educators implemented in Portugal. The main purpose of the project was the integration of sex workers as peer educators in intervention projects. We also reflect on the collaboration between sex workers and other participants.
Paper long abstract:
This paper presents a description of an innovative project of sex workers peer educators implemented in Lisbon. For the first time an NGO promoted a training course for sex workers aiming their integration as peer educators in harm reduction projects or health promotion projects. Also the project intended to empower the community in order to encourage the development of an association of sex workers - not yet existing in Portugal. Thus, if the training of peer educators was the most obvious and immediate aim, this process also enhanced the importance of promoting activism and militancy of sex workers. This project consisted on the development and testing of a model, so it had an investigative nature. Therefore, a link between the promoter entity, the training organization, the research team and sex workers was essential for suggesting, negotiating and introducing reformulations in what had been planned in order to produce improvements in its design. As this was a project for training peer educators, which requires a community-based intervention and a participatory approach, we choose a qualitative methodology of action research. The paper sets out strengths and weaknesses of this pilot project, questions the limits of collaboration between sex workers and other participants, and also reflects on the possible links between scientific research and socio-political intervention.
Re-thinking collaboration: between research and socio-political interventions