The occupation of ‘Prostitute’ has long been assosciated with smut, disgrace and low class women. These helpless, often drug abusing women are looking to make a quick buck out of sleazy old rich men, but is this the case? Who is becoming involved in prostitution and why are they turning to such a sordid way of earning money?
The National Union of Students has claimed that the vast majority of students that are being forced to turn to prostitution according to their records have been those taking part in longer courses, such as Medical Science and Veterinary Science. They add that these are often students from a more advantaged background.
This suggests that the students that are turning to prostitution to make ends meet have hailed from particularly well off families. Are they shocked by the transition to living on their own and struggling to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become acostom?
Has the desire to look after themselves driven them to sex work?
The image of the conventional sterotypical prostitute is definitely evolving but in to what?
A posh naive medical student with a taste for caviar and designer handbags?
Student prostitution is continually reported as being a massive issue that needs urgent government attention. Students are apparently being forced into the sex industry against their will, but are they?
The rise in student prostitution has been blamed on a simultaneous rise in tuition fees and living costs however recent research suggests this not to be the case.
Tuition fees have risen in 2012 to £9,000 from around £3,000, however students won’t actually feel the impact of this until well after they leave their studies.
Students will need to earn over £21,000 a year before they even begin to pay back their loan and it has been calculated that students would have to earn over £41,000 for 30 years if they wish to completely pay back their loans at all.
After looking in-depth at the living costs that would affect students in 2012 it is apparent that the actual rise in living costs is relatively small. Closer to 3% rather than the 5% that has been reported in the press.
However a recent survey has suggested that almost a quarter of students at a Birmingham University admitting to knowing a fellow student that works within the sex industry. Suggesting that students aren’t being forced in to prostitution and are in fact electing to sell their body.
Students, having recently left home and the shelter of family life are in fact looking for a quick and easy way to make money. Something that won’t take too much time away from their social life and studies but will fund the life style that they have become a custom to whilst living at home. Prostitution is simply the job that has filled this need for a fast income and rise in living fees and tuition have become the obvious but innocent thing to blame.
Do you have an opinion on student prostitution? Why do you think its happening? Is it a problem? Please comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.
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.
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?
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.”
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”.
Her target audience are OLD, WEALTHY MEN, her place of work is A SMALL SEEDY CLUB, she earns in ONE NIGHT what she previously earned in ONE MONTH and although her Mother wouldn’t agree with what she is doing Rachel’s lap dancing job is funding her university education and ensuring that leaves with no debt at all. I spoke to her to find out if this is really the ideal, convenient way to make money that she thought it would be.
Not to be confused with prostitution, lap dancing has in recent years been used by many students to fund a university education that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. Rachel was introduced to this world by a fellow student, “She was so matter of fact about it, it didn’t seem like a big deal… It seemed weird at first but eventually it just becomes a job.” During this investigation I would like to look further at how this way of making money has been “normalised” by students.
It definitely seems like its simply a way of life now for Rachel “Its just a job.”
“I wanted to have nice things, I needed money for those nice things, I needed a job for the money so I lap danced. Its as simple as that.”
She is currently in the last year of her degree and is determined to leave this profession as soon as she gains her dream job. “I don’t want to be here forever, I’m determined to succeed, this is just a stop gap I suppose.”
She clearly has the determination and wants to do a lot with her life but when asked what she would say in the future if anyone found out about this blip on her c.v. she became increasingly defensive. “I wouldn’t tell them, no one would know. I fully intend to keep it secret forever. My dream job is unlikely to happen if anyone knew about this in the future.”
So, not only is she risking her career, her safety and her sanity for money she is also determined to keep this dirty little secret forever. Who knows if she’ll manage it?