A qualitative approach was used to study the etiology of male sex work in Egypt and report on issues related to sexual identity, sociodemographic characteristics, and work and HIV contexts of male sex workers. Seven male sex workers aged between 17 and 37 were interviewed in Cairo and Alexandria. This preliminary, exploratory study suggests the existence of a strong relationship between childhood sexual abuse and later involvement in sex work. Other secondary factors driving some youth into sex work include poverty, inadequate salaries, unemployment, low education levels and other types of childhood maltreatment including physical, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect. In this study, sex workers mainly identified themselves following the "feminine vs. masculine" pattern where sexuality is defined according to the domination by or reception of the penis in the sex act. Only one identified himself as 'gay'. Different modalities of sex work were reported ranging between street sex work and arrangement of sex through friends and regular clients by mobile phones. However, most informants refused to consider sex work an occupation and preferred to call it a "source of income". As for HIV risks, nearly all informants underestimated their vulnerability to HIV. Although all reported condom use, most of them were inconsistent on it and attributed it to particular types of partners and sexual acts.The study fairly confirms that the subjective meanings male sex workers relate to the act of having sex, their typologies of clients and the way they interact with clients are all issues that inform their safer sex behaviours. It emphasizes the strong need for programmes to address the vulnerability of Egyptian male sex workers to sexual health, financial and psychological problems, and homophobia. Such programmes can be tailored as part of wider interventions targeting men who have sex with men in general.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Rizzo, Helen

Committee Member 1

Coker, Elizabeth

Committee Member 2

Dwyer, Kevin

Document Type



148 leaves


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License