Out of the Shadows: Giving a voice to sex workers in Malta

1 March 2021 – 28 February 2022

Project Background

Out of the Shadows aims to provide a much-needed voice to sex workers in Malta by creating a safe space for them to talk about their lives, experiences and dreams. Their stories will allow the nation to better understand the human complexities of sex work, going beyond hurtful or misconceived stereotypes.

Out of the Shadows Research

Through the work of Marija Grech, an independent researcher, we aim to will reveal voices of sex workers, their experiences and their hopes and wishes. The research will be intimate, respectful, inclusive and based on a deep respect for all relevant ethical and human considerations. It will attempt to engage with women, men, LGBTIQ+ persons, Maltese and non-Maltese sex workers in order to be as inclusive and diverse as possible.

Research to date has focused on the vulnerability and exploitation of sex workers, based on the understanding that sex work may never be a free human choice. Nonetheless, there is a large international movement that supports the idea that sex work – whilst often exploitative and abusive – may also be the result of a free and informed choice of men and women. Our aim in this research is not to favour or dismiss any view, but mainly to demonstrate that Malta – like all other countries – is host to a diverse community of sex workers.

aditus hopes that this project could act as a key contributor to the ongoing national discussion on the reform of sex work and trafficking. It has the potential of offering national stakeholders a unique insight into a sector that so far has only been spoken about, and not spoken to.

Research Purpose and Objectives

The main aim of the research is to give a voice to sex workers in Malta. It there has the following aims and objectives:

  • raise awareness on the diversity of sex workers in Malta;
  • flag areas of concern for the purpose of law- and policy-making and service-provision;
  • ensure a more humanised and knowledge-based discourse on sex workers;
  • promote the empowerment of those persons who freely and willingly engage in sex work;
  • stimulate a national discussion on the nation’s moral and social understanding of sex and its


The work will be presented in a publication, the format of which will be decided upon through discussions with the researcher and the sex workers in order to truly reflect their narrative.

This will be the first publication of its kind, giving a much-needed voice to a community that is often shrouded in shame, discrimination, poverty and marginalisation. So much has been said about sex workers, but rarely have their own voices been heard. It is time to bring them out of the shadows and listen to their narratives.

We are confident that the research will have a profound effect of national law, policy and services owing to its unique nature. During the on-going consultation process on the reform of sex work, several entities including governmental, lamented the absence of the voice of sex workers in a process that will directly affect their lives, their income and their futures.

Given the serious challenges in bringing sex workers to actively participate in such a consultation process, we hope that this publication will provide the needed input and perspectives.

For more information email carlacamilleri@aditus.org.mt or marijagrech@aditus.org.mt.

This project is funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of the Ministry for Social Inclusion and Wellbeing.