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.

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.

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.

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.”

 

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.

Students in the sex trade; is it as negative as it seems?

Laura of the English Collective of Prostitutes pointed out,

Ever since grants were done away with and loans introduced, we have been contacted by increasing numbers of students considering or involved in sex work.  Considering that it is common for a student to be saddled with a debt of £30,000 + at the end of their course this is no surprise.  Jobs in shops and pubs that students usually take up to cover living costs are increasingly scarce and low paid.”

So with other routes being hard to find or offering little money in comparison, the sex trade has certainly become more appealing to students in hard financial times.

Students are highlighting the great benefits of their work, as student ‘Rachel’ in our previous post noted

“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.”

She’s not the only one that sees her job choice as a positive one. Speaking to The Guardian, London university student, Joy Nilsson spoke of her passion for her work.

I don’t want to owe £50,000 when I graduate, and I know other women feel the same. I love my job and I’m very proud of what I do – it fits perfectly with my studying, it’s very flexible and you get your money up front. What other jobs give you that kind of freedom?”

Nilsson certainly doesn’t sound forced into this path.

The growth of lap dancing

Although it is apparent that students are resorting to the sex trade, the numbers of those working in prostitution appears less significant than other areas of the industry. One particular area showing this is lap-dancing as it is becoming a much more common occurrence.

A study of over 200 lap-dancers carried out by Leeds University found that

one in three of those surveyed were working to fund education. The majority of these were younger women, with 14% working to fund undergraduate study; 6% were on postgraduate courses and 4% in further education.”

So students are turning to jobs that offer flexible hours, high rate of pay and often great satisfaction. Is that really so negative?

The view from inside the industry

Commenting on The Guardian’s story, reader “c243dvx” shared her experiences

“I graduated from a prestigious university with a good degree some years ago, and CHOSE to work as a striptease artist thereafter.”

Although no longer a student, the reader suggests that the real negative issue here is not students in the industry but the operation of the sex trade.

I enjoy my job and have never felt degraded, which cannot be said of the many other industries I have worked in (law, media, finance to name a few). The woman who runs the club I work at is fair and supportive, and should be congratulated for creating such a nurturing working environment. I do understand, however, that many clubs are not run in such a commendable way, and I believe we should work to change the way they are operated.”

A job in any field will have positives and negatives, but perhaps for the sex trade the positives are being ignored. If students consent to this work then there should be no problem with their choice. The real issues that need addressing are those clubs and sections of the industry that do not offer the same safe environment for not only students, but any of their workers.

The number of students in the sex trade is difficult to determine with the social and moral judgement that still plagues the industry making it harder for the workers to speak out about it. However, the numbers should not be the main focus. Students and non-students are not numbers but people and so the extent of safety and support available for these workers should be under judgement, not their choices.

What are your experiences of the support on offer for workers in the sex trade? How safe is the industry and where does it need improvements? Let us know your experiences of the industry by commenting below or email us privately on investigatestudentprostitution@gmail.com.

One25 unaware of students in prostitution

The charity are ‘not aware of any students within our client group‘, notes Kate Golten of One25.

This is a stark opposite to the claims of growing prostitution within the student community in the UK as recent media coverage has suggested.

Golten stated that to date she and her colleagues had not experienced students working in the sex industry, although highlighting that One25 would offer help to students working in the sex industry if they were ‘women who were involved in street sex work, or at risk of being involved in street sex work‘.

However, One25 are ‘not aware of what is available to students working in the sex industry as this is not [their] client group‘.

One25, the charity that reaches out to women trapped in sex work, helps to support them as they break away from the industry and ‘step away from the streets‘. Their mission is to help them as they take the brave steps towards rebuilding a life away from the violence, poverty and addiction associated with the sex trade.

The women often make first contact with One25 through meeting us during outreach. Our van goes out 5 nights per week and provides nutritious food, hot drinks and a chance to talk and get advice in a safe space.

The video below gives an insight into how these GSK Impact Awards 2010 winners are earning that title.

These findings suggest that certainly for Bristol the case of students in the sex trade is not as apparent as has been speculated. However, as Golten suggests, One25 do not consider students part of their ‘client group‘, does this mean there is not a high case of student prostitutes or rather that they may not know where to seek help?

Let us know your experiences of such charities. Are there enough routes for students to seek help for working in the sex trade or are such charities not necessarily called for due to the low, or non-existent numbers of student prostitutes? Comment below or email us at investigatestudentprostitution@gmail.com.