I’ll just go ahead and say it: university education is expensive. Perhaps too expensive for the average Joe. Many students will work part-time jobs, and even more in the summer, in order to make their debt a little easier to handle. Sometimes, however, these aren’t your average pint-pulling or grocery-scanning jobs.
According to a three-year study called The Student Sex Work Project, released by Swansea University in March, there are a growing number of students paying for their higher education by working in the sex industry. Their exploits can be anything from webcam work to phone sex, or even escorting.
According to articles by Buzzfeed and Dazed Digital, the student-run study has found that as many as 1/20 students in the UK have worked in the sex industry.
Ahem, excuse me guys, but that’s not what it found at all.
The only thing The Student Sex Work Project – we’ll call it TSSWP from now on – proves is that 1/20 of the 6,773 students who completed their survey have worked, or still work, in the sex industry. So I think we can safely tell Buzzfeed and Dazed Digital to buzz off with their misleading shenanigans. Tsk tsk.
Anyway, whilst the study itself does make a few brash claims and vague assumptions, there is something very agreeable about it: the people behind it are very supportive of these so-called ‘student sex workers,’ and are intent on tackling the taboo surrounding their work. Some student sex workers were even interviewed, and many of them were ashamed, because they felt as though their friends and family would not approve of their actions.
This is, to say the least, unfortunate.
TSSWP asserts that universities should find ways of supporting students who find themselves in this situation, as opposed to condemning or even punishing them. Sadly, according to the results of TSSWP’s survey, not many of the student sex workers actually enjoyed their work anyway.
Having said that, it tells you something when a young adult can make more money from sounding sexy on the phone or doing ‘out-calls’ than they will by working long shifts in a restaurant or by working on the tills for hours on end. Therefore, we shouldn’t act surprised when some of our most poorly-off citizens choose to work within these professions in order to stay afloat.
Let’s all be honest for a moment… Who wouldn’t want to make a living from sex? (Assuming there are no dangers). Anyone who reads this and says ‘not me’ is probably fibbing.
In all seriousness, there is a real problem: prostitution and escorting, in particular, can be rather dangerous. Your clients could be anyone at all, and that’s the worrying part; it’s not necessarily safe, yet some students are desperate enough for the money that they’ll take the chance anyway, and I’d say it’s a damn shame if this means they can’t really enjoy what they’re doing.
The legality of buying and selling sex is a dubious affair to say the least. Whilst it isn’t strictly illegal to sell yourself in the UK, the industry is poorly regulated: Kerb crawling? Unlawful. Setting up a brothel? Unlawful. Soliciting for sex? Unlawful. That doesn’t leave a lot of room to manoeuvre, does it?
If it isn’t actually illegal, then why is there so much red tape? Of course these things will happen anyway, and though the police may turn a blind eye to some sexy establishments (which usually go under the name of ‘massage parlours’), getting caught can land people in a lot of trouble. This leaves students in particular on a bit of a sticky wicket. They need the money, but what they’re doing could be considered unlawful, and isn’t entirely safe. Getting caught could very well jeopardise their place at university, and if that university is more concerned about its image than its students, they’re pretty much done for.
They need support.
We don’t know the real figures, so we can’t rightly assume that student prostitution is a problem. What we can say with confidence is that if the industry was a little safer and properly regulated by the government, you’d have to be pretty prudish to consider it as an issue at all.
So guys, if you’re in higher education and you’re selling sex, just stay safe.
If you enjoy what you’re doing, then that’s great; there’s nothing wrong with a bit of promiscuity.