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.”