Shock toll of students resorting to ‘sex work’ to solve financial issues

One in nine students say they would resort to sex work in a financial crisis, according to a shocking new study.

The survey also found that three per cent of students across the UK, including Scotland, had resorted to selling sex to pay their way through their studies.

The Student Money Survey 2021 found 75 per cent of students struggle to make ends meet and three-quarters have thought about dropping out of education, with some saying they cut out meals or turned to risky ways like drug trials to earn money.

The most common sex work for students is selling intimate photos, followed by the sale of used clothing for sexual gratification.

Others got involved in webcamming, prostitution and appeared in pornography.

Laura Brown of Save the Student, who commissioned the survey, said an unstable part-time job market as well as parents losing earnings due to the pandemic saw students’ usual funding sources dry up.

Laura Brown of Save the Student

She said: “The thought of any student entering a situation that is potentially dangerous out of desperation for money is heartbreaking.

If students find themselves drawn to sex work because of financial difficulties, I would urge them to reach out to their university support services and to find out about alternative forms of funding that could be available to them.”

Encompass, a network of agencies which supports anyone in commercial sexual exploitation, said students were naive to believe sex work is easy money.

Brown added: “Young women, in particular students, are being mis-sold the idea sex work is empowering and an easy way to solve financial issues.

“From OnlyFans to escorting to sugar daddy experiences, women are given the impression this is a quick fix.

“However real-life experiences are far from the glamorised myth being peddled and there are long-term impacts from involvement in the sex industry, particularly on safety and their mental and physical wellbeing.”

In their report “Outside” launched this week, Encompass calls for a national strategy to provide exiting services out of commercial sexual exploitation.

It carried the harrowing testimony of Alice, a student who was sexually assaulted by a client. This is her experience of being an escort and the impact it had on her life.

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