Original Research

Perceptions of quality of life by female sex workers from the rural area of the Sertão Produtivo Baiano, Brazil: a phenomenological study


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Pablo Luiz Santos Couto
1 Master's degree , Coordinator * ORCID logo

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Carle Porcino
2 Master's degree, PhD Student ORCID logo

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Samantha Souza da Costa Pereira
3 Master's degree, PhD Student

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Tarcício da Silva Flores
4 Specialist, Research Group Member

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Alba Benemérita Alves Vilela
5 PhD, Doctor, Professor

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Antônio MT Gomes
6 PhD, Doctor, Professor

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Cleuma Sueli Santos Suto
7 PhD, Doctor, Professor

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Dejeane de Oliveira Silva
8 Doctor, Director

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Luiz Carlos Moraes França
9 Master's degree, PhD Student ORCID logo


1, 4 Collegiate of Nursing, Centro Universitário FG, Guanambi, Brazil

2 Nursing School, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

3 Health Department, Universidade Estadual de Montes Claros, Montes Claros, Brazil

5 Department of Health II, Universidade Estadual do Sudoeste da Bahia, Jequié, Brazil

6, 9 Nursing School, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7, 8 Department of Health Science, Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Ilhéus, Brazil

ACCEPTED: 5 September 2022

early abstract:

Introduction: Paid sexual service performed by women is surrounded by stigmas with a lot of prejudice and invisibility that favor vulnerability and achieve the quality of life. Such a context is enhanced when considering intersectionalities that mark the trajectory of women who have the work tool for obtaining income in sexual practice. This is because they experience inequities in gender, race, class and, above all, bear marks of struggle and survival, as they are residents of the rural area of a poor region of Brazil, far from urban centers. Thus, the objective was to understand the meanings that women, in the experience of paid sexual work living in rural areas, attribute to the quality of life, in a Sartre´s phenomenological perspective.
Method: Qualitative study from a larger project. For this study, we used 30 female sex workers, living in the rural area of the Sertão Produtivo da Bahia region, Brazil. The in-depth interview was applied, whose script consisted of two guiding questions: 'tell me what you mean by quality of life, as a sex worker'; 'Tell me how you experience well-being and quality of life when you are a sex worker and a rural resident'. The narratives resulting from the interviews were organized, categorized and operationalized from the hermeneutics-dialectic. The interpretations were anchored in the theoretical reference of Sartre's Phenomenology.
Results: Some meanings were congruent in the narratives to their daily lives (described or observed), presenting similarities, which allowed convergence for the inference of subjective dimensions, which gave rise to three categories of analysis, which refers to the understanding that sex workers have about quality of life, whether they believe they have it or not and what is important to achieve it. Thus, three categories emerged, organized in a framework, whose themes refer to the experience of sexual service, while women, the poor, living in the countryside, entitled: quality of life as a synonym for a healthy life, food, and healthy life; difficulties in achieving quality of life; without money, there is no quality of life.
Conclusion: The fact that they come from a poor region of Brazil and live in the rural area far from urban centers leads these female sex workers to have unique experience in the context they are inserted since the fact that they have a marginalized service, as a result of the iniquities suffered, they provide the necessary freedom to face the difficulties of day-to-day life. For this reason, the quality of life gains a sense of the search for a healthy life, food, and well-being, permeated by barriers that hinder the achievement of quality of life, such as violence and, finally, the income and money from this service as the most important way to have happiness and well-being.