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As Strath Union is half way through our 16 days of action against gender-based violence, we want to make it known that our fight must also demand safety, equality and rights for sex workers.
As Strath Union is half way through our 16 days of action against gender-based violence, we want to make it known that our fight for safety and equality must also demand safety, equality and rights for sex workers.
People enter sex work for a whole host of reasons, and a 2018 collaborative research project between NUS and sex-worker led organisations in the UK found that over half of student sex workers were motivated to work in the sex industry to pay for their living expenses (food, bills etc.) This was followed by paying the rent (53%) and to fund consumption such as clothes and books (51%). With the cost-of-living crisis, the UK has seen an increase in people entering the sex industry, and at the same time, a worsening of conditions for sex workers.
In the words of the NUS report:
“We believe all students have the right to bodily autonomy and recognise our duty to campaign against stigmatisation and criminalisation of sex work. Stigma prevents student sex workers seeking help from their students’ union, their intuitions, their family and friends, public health and survivor support services when they require them. We know that even though buying, soliciting, arranging and organising sex work is illegal, it does not stop sex work from happening, but only pushes it further underground, entrapping students in poverty and isolation.”
Violence is not inherent to sex work, yet many sex workers are survivors of sexual violence. It is harmful policies, laws, criminalisation, and prevalent negative attitudes towards sex work that make it high risk. We need to listen to what sex workers most directly impacted by violence are saying about how to make their lives safer.
If you are a student at Strathclyde and want to campaign around these issues, contact the Campaigns Coordinator.
More resources for sex workers, and educational resources on the topic of sex work, can be found here.
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