Are fee rises really to blame? – chart

A clearer presentation of some of the data presented in “Are fee rises really to blame?” as shown below.

Graph displaying differences in prices on items from an average food shop

Graph displaying differences in prices on items from an average food shop
(click for larger image)

This chart focuses primarily on the change in prices of items included in food shopping as some of the other payments mentioned (i.e. mortgage) are unlikely to be relevant towards students.

From this chart there is no clear rise nor fall in price on food. In fact as stated in the table here, overall there is a decrease in overall cost of thirty-five pence.

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Significant Percentage of students Know a Student Sex Worker

New statistics suggest that student prostitution may be more of an issue than we thought. An on-campus tally at Birmingham City University was carried out in order to get a clearer sense of the reality of student prostitution. We asked 100 students whether they know a student sex worker and 23 students said that they did.

This is surprising when you consider the lack of awareness that is shown by Students at The Student Room (http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=1977382&p=37249533), which members such as snag prophet claim “its nonsense”. For Kicks concurs, “Like anything in the press blown out of proportion… hardly a student phenomenon.”

The only recognition of students being forced to such means, is explained by the demands of a materialistic lifestyle, ebam_UK says it’s resorted to in order “to gain disposable income or pay for that exotic holiday… anything for a Cambridge ball ticket”.

When talking to some of the students who took part in the on-campus tally, they had a very different opinion on things. Fashion student Olivia Cameron said,

I would never turn to prostitution, but students struggle financially a lot more than people seem to think. After I’ve used my loan to pay my rent I’m left with nothing to live on, and if my parents couldn’t help me I wouldn’t know what to do. It’s hard to find a job, and I know a lot of students who aren’t supported by their parents.

English and Drama student Katie Hodson seems bitter towards the Government’s student loans system,

I’m stuck in a job with crap pay, no help from my parents, and left with less than £5 a week to spend on food if I want to have ANY enjoyment outside of work and university.”

By Daniella Dixon-Cannon

Film and Literature Community’s Response to Student Prostitution

The subject of student prostitution has appeared to have caused quite a stir in the arts community. Elles a French film about student prostitution was released 3 days ago.

It is the creation of feminist film director, Malgorzata Szumowska who attempts to stamp out western attitudes to prostitution, and instead of constructing repressed women forced into sex work, Szumowska tells us that sex is a commodity, bought and sold in ways that go beyond traditional prostitution.

Instead it is the suburban housewife who is trapped, trapped in a marriage where sex is sold for her domesticity, and the student prostitutes are the ones who are ultimately freed by their unashamed sexual liberty.

However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a response in the arts community to student sex workers, particular in french culture. Emmanuel Bercot is another french director who is responsible for the film, “Mes Cheres Etudes” or the English title, “Student Services“.

Director Emmanuel Bercot based the film on an autobiographical book of the same title, by anonymous author Laura D. Mes Cheres Etudes or My Dear Studies caused a minor scandal in the writers homeland, by claiming that she had to prostitute herself in order to fund her studies in Spanish and Italian.

Last year at the time of the books release Laura D told The Times, “a lot of people said that it was my choice – but at the time it didn’t feel like a choice. It felt like an obligation”.

The stress of having to pay for tuition fees, food, rent and bills without a student loan or grant and a low paying part time job is what lead to Laura to responding to an “adults only” ad. in the local newspaper.

Since the release of Laura D’s “Mes Cheres Etudes” other student sex workers have come forward and written about their experiences. Alexandra Aden wrote “Und nach der Vorlesung ins Bordell. Bekenntnisse einer deutschen Kunststudentin” (After lectures to the brothel. Confessions of a German art student).

Und nach der Vorlesung ins Bordell: Bekenntnisse einer Kunststudentin

The book is about Aden’s experiences working as a prostitute for 6 years, and the other students she got to know who also shared her profession.

Another German Author Sonia Rossie released the autobiographic book, “Fucking Berlin an audacious account of her voluntary and “fun” experiences as a webcam girl and student sex worker.

By Daniella Dixon-Cannon

Picture By: Amazon.com, inc.

Empowering or degrading? The feminist view on prostitution

Torn between the empowerment of women in control of their sexuality and earning money for it and those that are seen as nothing more than victims of a male dominated society, the feminist view offers critical thinking on prostitution.

Emily Rose offers summaries and discussions on the varying feminist views on prostitution. The article suggests that Existentialist feminists see that “prostitution can be liberating and empowering to women and prostitutes are entrepreneurs”. However many see the negative side of the industry…

In response to About.com’s “Is Prostitution a Victimless Crime?”, they note that “What’s Recreational Sex for Some Men is Abuse for Many Women”.

Calling upon writer and anti-pornography activist, Andrea Dworkin, they expose the view on prostitution that it is not built on the empowerment of women but is a business of degrading women.

Andrea Dworkin made it her life’s work to focus on the sex trade and reveal it for what it is – not a free enterprise but a business built on the backs, the blood, and the debasement of women.”

She highlights what she sees as the truth about prostitution and “refutes the argument that a high-priced call girl charging $5,000 an evening is any more empowered and independent than a 13-year-old runaway beaten by her pimp.”

[F]rom the perspective of a woman in prostitution or a woman who has been in prostitution–the distinctions other people make between whether the event took place in the Plaza Hotel or somewhere more inelegant are not the distinctions that matter….The circumstances don’t mitigate or modify what prostitution is.”

Dworkin is not alone in her strong view on the reality of the sex industry. From University of Rhode Island, professor in women’s studies, Donna M is a leading researcher on the trafficking of women.

“There is no dignity in prostitution. Many of the acts of prostitution, including those that are photographed in the making of pornography, are intended to degrade, humiliate and express domination over women. They are acts of misogyny, not respect or affection, and have nothing to do with love or intimacy. Women don’t emerge from sexual exploitation into positions of power, respect or admiration. They remain powerless as individuals and an underclass as a group…..

Prostitution and trafficking are extreme forms of gender discrimination and exist as a result of the powerlessness of women as a class.”

These ideas suggest that at any age, prostitution is an industry built on the objectification of women and thrives on their lower position in society.

Are the numerous dangers and the evident degradation of women in the industry outweighed by those women that find empowerment in the industry?

Let us know your thoughts and experiences by commenting below or email us privately at investigatestudentprostituion@gmail.com.

Should we be putting a stop to student prostitution?

Writing for Yahoo Lifestyle, Catherine Maillard certainly thinks so.

Catherine writes that “on the point of being trivialised within the student community, it goes hand in hand with crisis and insecurity, but not just this: the internet and its wide access to different options contributes to the growth of the problem.”

However, she fails to note that there are students, and particularly females, involved in sex work that enjoy and feel empowered by their work.

Catherine touches on the idea that “prostitution can equally be a deliberate choice” but follows by suggesting that in the case of internet ads for such jobs, “it is nothing more than a trap”.

Empowering, dangerous or degrading?

It appears that very few people find themselves sat on the fence when it comes to prostitution, especially student prostitution.

Catherine calls upon a 19-year-old student, Stephanie who “gradually started to offer sexual favours to her social landlord” when she couldn’t pay off her rent.

There are certainly serious and obvious dangers apparent in the sex trade. Especially when such students are taking on roles that “do not have proper contracts” which may lead them into “ambiguous situations, …find[ing] themselves drawn into things they did not sign up for in the first place. “

The sex industry is one that society often wishes to sweep under the carpet and pretend isn’t happening but addressing the real problems and issues that are still occurring is a crucial step for improving one of the oldest professions in the books.

The very real dangers faced by prostitutes include rape, abuse and violent death… dangers that may be faced on a daily basis. In 2000, Melissa Farley (PhD) summarised in a fact sheet on human rights violations, specifically considering prostitution, that…

Prostitution is:

a) sexual harassment
b) rape
c) battering
d) verbal abuse
e) domestic violence
f) a racist practice
g) a violation of human rights
h) childhood sexual abuse
i) a consequence of male domination of women
j) a means of maintaining male domination of women
k) all of the above

So perhaps student prostitution or prostitution as a whole should be completely illegalised and stamped out?

But what about those women that rely on the income to survive, surely the answer is not to get rid of a trade that does offer some positives that are often neglected. Perhaps the real need for change is the attitude to the profession. If the sex trade was viewed as a  profession and treated with the same consideration, the case of violence and health dangers could be better dealt with. If formal laws and regulations became commonplace within the industry that has been demonised with a seedy reputation, the people employed within it would be safer, which is ultimately one of the root problems within the industry.

If the women, and men, in the industry were properly protected perhaps the room for those  empowered by their choice of work would leave more approval for the sex trade.

So, perhaps we shouldn’t be asking whether we should we be putting a stop to student prostitution, or prostitution as whole, but asking how the industry can be improved to care for the workers.

Let us know your thoughts and experiences by commenting below or email us privately at investigatestudentprostituion@gmail.com.

Why should we care about student prostitutes?

Student prostitutes are definitely in existence within most universities throughout the world. Several reports have recently described it as a crisis that needs the governments urgent attention but why should we be concerned? What implications does it have? and should this ‘trend’ continue what is the future for students?

Prostitution maybe the oldest profession in the world but it may well also be one of the most dangerous. The Poppy Project‘s aim is to map commercial sex around London, they have found that 18% of women working as prostitutes in flats, parlours and saunas are originally from the UK, it is difficult to discover how many of these have been brought to the UK specifically for the sex industry.

Even scarier facts include: 87% of women in street-based prostitution use heroin (M. Hester and N. Westmarland, Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an Holistic Approach, Home Office Research Study 279, London, 2004). Due to the massive percentage of the women involved with heroine it seems inevitable that students might be caught up in that 87%.

In the UK as many as 60 women involved in prostitution have been murdered in the last 10 years (Home Office, Paying the Price: A consultation paper on prostitution, 2004).

Several charities have been set up specifically to help prostitutes to attempt to help them operate as safely and carefully as possible and they stress it is essential that the plight of the nations prostitutes be recognised. Calling for decriminalisation as they feel it would better protect the workers within the sex industry for violence and abuse. Further information can be found around the pros and cons of prostitution here. 

Student Prostitution: Are fee rises really to blame?

Although students are very much aware of the price of their degree when they begin, they aren’t required to pay it back for aslong as it takes them to earn over £21,000. Moreover, a student would have to earn over £41,000 for 30 years to pay off their entire loan within the new guidelines.

Several recent reports have looked into the link between the rise in tuition fees and the number of students turning to prostitution but is this really the case?

The maintenance loan (the portion of the loan to cover living costs) actually remains unchanged. Therefore students have no less money to live on than previous attendees.

Why are recent headlines declaring the education system has a prostitution dilemma on its hands?

The rise in living costs maybe to blame. The Daily Telegraph recently conducted a study regarding the real cost of living in which it examined how much the cost of living had actually gone up in recent years. They found that overall the cost of living had gone up by more than 9.5% however when examining the break down of items within the living cost index is it apparent that not many of these areas would be of particular issue to the average student.

According to the report, an average food shop had only risen by around 30p.

…and several household bills, although several not particularly relevant to students had only risen by around £3.00.
This therefore begs the question, how have students been left so out of pocket that they would be “forced” into the world of prostitution?

Selling your body to get educated.

For a large percentage of the students in the UK the prospect of university is a scary one. The idea of having more debt than you could ever have imagined is terrifying. For those students that take the leap and begin the road towards a degree, they are often forced to take drastic action if they want to survive for three years away from home.

Rachel* was one of those students. She attended university for almost a year before she got into financial difficulty. “My Mom just wasn’t in the position to help. I had to do something if I wanted to carry on living the way I wanted.” After extending her overdraft as far as she was allowed she finally realised she needed a job. “I tried to work in a coffee shop but I earn nothing and had to put up with so many idiots.” It was at this point that she turned to a friend who had discussed her weekend job at a lap dancing club. “She always told me I’d be good at it but I suppose you don’t consider it until you need to, do you?”

Within no time Rachel was in the club, meeting the other girls and getting a feel for her surroundings. “Its sleazy at first. Its all the things you can imagine at first but after a few nights you get used to it and its nothing. Its just work.”

“I’ve often been propositioned. It’d be really easy to turn to prostitution and if you were desperate I could see why you would.”

The clientele are almost always old enough to be Rachel’s father and the club isn’t the most sophisticated of establishments but to Rachel it is very clear that this is just a job. When asked when she’ll stop she is extremely undecided. “I don’t know, I suppose at the end of university, when I have a proper job.”

When I pointed out to her that this “proper job” will almost definitely pay her less than her current profession she shrugs her shoulders “I can’t be lap dancing forever, I’ll have to stop one day.”

When asked about students being forced into the sex trade Rachel is particularly sceptical. “I don’t think people can be forced into it. I wasn’t forced into anything. If I wanted to live on just my student loan I could have but I didn’t want to. I don’t believe anyone would be forced into it while they’re at uni.”

 

Student Prostitution : The facts and figures?

The growth in student prostitution has been such a massive issue for universities in the UK that the National Union of Students, NUS has taken it upon themselves to conduct an in-depth study into the real facts and figures and whether this is the massive problem that it has been reported as.

It examined the rise in recent years of students taken part in medical studies and selling their bodies to fund the ever growing price of tuition. In the past year calls to The English Collective of Prostitutes Helpline has more than doubled, the organisation has reported a steady rise in calls from students over the past ten years. However the helpline has been inundated by calls since the government’s announcement that student fees would rise to £9,000 from 2012.

They do also stress that students aren’t always turning to simply prostitution, they have reports of escorts, lap dancers and prostitutes and the Department of Education has therefore pledged over £180m a year financial support for the countries most vulnerable 16-19 year olds.

They insist that this will ensure that the system becomes fairer as although tuition fees maybe rising they have assured students it will not be detrimental to the students going to university from the poorest households.

The study also estimated that 20% of the employees within the countries lap dancing clubs are also studying.

Moreover, research published last year from the University of Kingston found that the number of university students who knew someone who had worked in the sex industry to fund their studies had gone up from 3% to 25% in 10 years. However due to the nature of the questions this survey must be questioned further.

They also found that 16% of students would consider working within the sex industry whilst studying.

Dr. Ron Roberts added that he found this survey “worrying”.Image

 

Commercial sex in higher education; what are the rules?

Students in the sex trade are not a new phenomenon; however universities are yet to catch up to this.

In 2009, an investigation by Linda Cusick and Susan Paton of the University of the West of Scotland and Ron Roberts on Kingston University sought out to uncover “higher and further education institutions’ policies… relate[d] to the interactions of their staff and students with the sex industry.”

The investigation highlighted the figures of students selling sex were extremely varied with research by Westminster University estimating 3–4% of indebted students were earning money in the sex industry, whereas  through gathering information from sex worker support services, Leeds University Student Union estimated 60% of sex workers in Leeds were students.

It seems the student attitude towards the sex trade as a form of employment is not one of inconceivability as from a sample undergraduates, it was noted that 10% “knew students who are involved in sex work, which was defined as prostitution, escorting, lap dancing or stripping”. Alongside this, a recent survey of over 300 students “found 21% would be willing to undertake some form of sex work to pay for their education”.

However, of the 326 institutions written to 72% responded and out of these 236, not one  “reported having a policy on staff or student involvement in commercial sex and none suggested that they had any concerns in this area“. The only form of policy came through an implied link between their general policies and their “applicability to staff/student involvement in commercial sex.”

One such higher education institution in England commented

“[S]hould we become aware of staff or student involvement in commercial sex we would be primarily concerned with understanding the circumstances of the individual(s) involved and in taking a supportive rather than a punitive approach in the first instance.”

The figures suggest that students are resorting to work in the sex trade to fund their studies; however the notion that they are forced appears misplaced with numerous students acknowledging the industry and even suggesting it could be a possible job choice. In the case of students involved in sex work, the numbers are there, however the support and guidance from the institutions is certainly lacking in response to this.

Students are working in the sex trade but it appears the universities aren’t ready to specifically address this yet.

What are you experiences of universities dealing with students in the sex industry? Let us know by commenting below or email us privately at investigatestudentprostitution@gmail.com.