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…
a) sexual harassment
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.