Attitudes Towards Student Prostitution

Whether it’s for or against, everybody has an opinion on the subject of student prositution.

On Twitter the attitude, particularly among younger persons and students, seems to be one of mockery, joking over lack of money and a need to sleep with others for money because there’s no potential alternative.

Twitter search for 'student prostitution'

Whereas in the comment sections on an article on the Mail Online regarding the issues, the attitude is generally one of digust and incredulity.

Comments on a feature article commenting on the rise in student prostitution as found in the Daily Telegraph

Although these comments are only a small sample of the opinions available and expressed and cannot be taken to be wholly representative of Great Britain or even of Daily Mail readers and Twitter users, from these you can see there would appear to be an obvious divide between the younger and older generation with one seeing it as a form of myth and the other as an ‘easy way out’ often citing the excuse of how men are able to pay for their education without resorting to such practices.

Are students aware of the responsibilities involved?

Gallery

Last week, Donna Asutaits was sent to jail after failing to pay taxes on earnings of over £300,000 ove the course of her career as a prostitute. A career which she began as a student in order to pay for her … Continue reading

Student prostitution: funding a lifestyle

When confronted with the primary concern around student prostitutiondid you feel forced into the industry?” Louisa* replies firmly, “absolutely not”.

The idea of students turning to sex work often conjures up images of late-teens to twenty-something year olds struggling to get by during their education and as a last resort they turn unwillingly to a field of work that is judged and scrutinised for its dangers and controversial nature. But, Louisa isn’t your typical student working in prostitution.

Louisa studied BA Health & Social Sciences; however, she breaks the mould as being in her thirties makes Louisa a mature student. Although older than your average student, Louisa was still a student and throughout her time at university, she funded her lifestyle through working as an escort.

Louisa highlights “I could afford my studies through my previous career”. However, she admits that prostitution offered her more spare time, “less stress” and more money.

Now, although Louisa is not your typical student, she is not alone as she notes that “there are many other ‘mature’ [student] escorts doing so”.

Louisa, alongside many other student prostitutes in a similar position, is forgotten by the media. Why? Not only because of her age, but because many of these students’ work in the sex industry is a choice, and often one that funds a lifestyle.

She notes that the sex industry, “like any job it has good and bad points.” This is certainly a choice for Louisa, “I have completed my degree and don’t plan on working in that field at all, much preferring to escort for now.“ “Escorting is my profession for now, and hopefully for the next few years.”

Are students really in the sex trade?

Throughout this investigation, it has been uncovered that students are working in the sex trade – which extends further than just prostitution, to include lap dancing, amongst other areas. However, it appears that the number of students feeling pressured into the profession is much less than has been suggested.

Our recent survey in Birmingham found that out of 100 students asked, nearly a quarter knew of a student in the sex industry. Additionally, an investigation in 2009 showed, although varied across the UK, evidence of students turning to the sex trade for money. Westminster University estimated 3–4% of indebted students were earning money in the sex industry, whereas Leeds University Student Union estimated 60% of sex workers in Leeds were students.

But those seeking help for their decision to work in the trade shows little to no evidence. One25, the charity that reaches out to women trapped in sex work, say they “not aware of any students within our client group” and an investigation in 2009 found that out of the 236 institutions 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“.

So why are students choosing employment in the form of prostitution?

Our study of the student/prostitution community has offered insights into the real reasons behind the numbers of student in the sex trade. The focus on funding studies as a primary reason is misplaced, with the reality being students are choosing prostitution to fund a lifestyle.

Research has shown that although “overall the cost of living had gone up by more than 9.5%” on closer examination,  “the breakdown of items within the living cost index” showed that “not many of these areas would be of particular issue to the average student.” In particular, the report notes that “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

Additionally, suggesting students are funding their education may be misleading as for the majority of students, they won’t start paying back their loans until they are earning a salary of over £15,000.

So how are students being forced into the industry? Well put simply, it appears they are not. Figures of students in prostitution and the sex trade are certainly difficult completely determine, but the reasons of those who are willing to come forward suggest that their job is a choice and a choice based on wanting more money in their pockets.

Louisa says “I decided to try it out as I really did not enjoy the stress, low pay and bad management I had experienced in a few jobs in my previous career.  I decided to turn escorting into my full time job when I was certain that I could earn a certain amount guaranteed.”

Not alone in this, student and part-time lap-dancer Rachel* saysIf 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.” Her choice was made on material needs. “I wanted to have nice things, I needed money for those nice things, I needed a job for the money so I lap danced. It’s as simple as that.

The Issues of prostitution

This investigation has addressed that the sex industry is one that brings controversy, but more importantly, dangers. However, this is a long standing issue to be tackled, not only for the sake of students but for all workers in the sex trade. Some see prostitution as degrading, violent and dangerous, whereas others see the industry as one allowing empowerment and pride in the profession. Whichever side you agree with, unless this industry, one of the oldest in the book, is completely wiped out and illegalised, we can only push for better regulations to protect those people who decide to work in this area.

Investigating Student Prostitution: the truths, myths and issues

Yes, there are students working in not only prostitution, but various areas of the sex trade. However, a sigh of relief may be made as the overriding reason found throughout this investigation is not students funding their education or because these students have been forced into the work. The truth is that the majority of these students have made a job choice that suits their own lifestyle choices. Like Rachel says, “It’s just a job.”

(*names changed to protect anonymity)

Are you a student who has funded a lifestyle rather their education within the sex trade? Let us know your experiences or your views on the investigation into student prostitution by emailing invesitgatestudentprostitution@gmail.com or by commenting below.

Is Student Prostitution a problem of the lower classes?

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.

A study carried out in Canada by the Canadian Medical Asasociation suggested that students studying Medical Science tended to come from more advantaged background, their parents tended to have professional highly paid jobs and they tended to be from White, Chinese or Indian heritage.

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?

What do you think? Let us know : @investigatesp

Student Prostitution: Tuition fees, Living costs, Charities, Myth?

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 

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.

Living Costs

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.

Charities

Charities set up to help prostitutes and people within the sex industry have also failed to report an increase in student prostitution. One25, a prostitution charity set up in Bristol have reported that they haven’t encountered any students accessing their facilities at all. 

Students themselves

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 investigatestudentprostitution@gmail.com and let us know what you think.

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.

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?