In Peru, commercial sex involving men and male-born travestis, transgenders and transsexuals (CSMT) is usually represented as a dangerous practice carried out on the streets by people experiencing economic hardship and social exclusion. However, in reality little is known about the complexities of this practice in Peru. This paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of the characteristics, patterns and sociocultural aspects of CSMT in three Peruvian cities. The study included participant observation in sex work venues and interviews with 42 sex workers and 25 key informants. We found that CSMT in Peru takes many forms (some not previously described in the country) and is practised in different places by people from various socioeconomic levels. In many cases, the practice appears linked to ideals of social mobility, migratory experiences and other economic activities. In addition, the increasing use of the Internet and mobile phones has changed patterns of sex work in Peru. We review the implications of these findings for future research and public health interventions.
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