Thousands of men and women in Wales are ditching studies and careers to become sex workers, new research reveals.
Researchers at Swansea University tracked down 400 off-street sex workers in brothels, escort agencies and over the internet in Cardiff. They found:
More than three-quarters of those questioned had qualifications including GCSEs, A-levels and even a law degree
The majority had come into the sex trade from respectable careers, including one woman who had been a senior manager in a private sector business
None had been trafficked or coerced with many quoting high wages, flexible working hours and job satisfaction as their reasons for going into the trade
The majority were working independently by advertising on the internet, some of whom said they were doing it for fun
The results challenge the myths put about by anti-prostitution campaigners that men and women trapped in a dangerous trade by controlling pimps, financial insecurity and a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse.
Dr Tracey Sagar, a lecturer in Criminology and Social Policy at Swansea University and co-author of the report, told WalesOnline the results called into question the effectiveness of current Government strategies, which are attempting to wipe out
the sex trade for good. She said:
We're not talking here about women on the streets, who are extremely vulnerable to crime, violence, who often have serious problems with drug abuse and who do need our help.
The women we spoke to for this research were articulate and knew exactly what they were doing -- no-one who we talked to had been pushed into it.
Many were giving up well-paid jobs to do it, quoting good money and flexible working hours. One even said, 'I'm my own business, I'd never go back to a normal job.'
These women definitely don't want to be saved -- they have made a choice and we have to respect that choice -- Government policy needs to recognise that the sex industry has been around for ever and it's not going to go
Off-street sex workers are not the same as on-street and trafficked women and no-one policy will do for all.
Dr Sagar and her colleague Debbie Jones worked with HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru to track down sex workers in Cardiff. Of the 395 men and women they found, an overwhelming 343 were working independently by advertising their services
on adult websites, while another 18 had placed ads in a local advertiser, 14 were with an escort agency and 20 were working out of seven well-known massage parlours in Cardiff.
Dr Sagar said that these figures barely scrape the surface of the industry, with many more brothels and escort agencies existing that did not respond to the survey, as well as an invisible majority of prostitutes selling their services via
dozens of specialist adult websites.
Slavery remains as much of a problem in the UK as when it was officially abolished 200 years ago, a 'think'-tank has ludicrously claimed.
The Centre for Social Justice will launch a review of slavery and human trafficking using estimates that supposedly show at least 6,000 women have been trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution. Others are working as domestic servants
or forced labour.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, patron of the 'think'-tank, will help launch the inquiry, which will look at the role, impact and training of the police and other frontline organisations. It will also consider the effectiveness of
the National Referral Mechanism, which aims to identify victims
Gavin Poole, the CSJ's executive director, spewed:
Every slavery victim represents a family torn apart and an individual's freedom and choice destroyed. They mark the continuation of an illegal trade which, since its official abolition in 1807, has grown to devastate
many more people than it did 200 years ago.
The 15-month review, which will be led by Andrew Wallis, director of the anti-trafficking and victim support group Unseen UK, will also consider the UK's laws on prostitution, trafficking and domestic servitude.
The government is expected to publish a separate review of its anti-trafficking strategy later this month.
From my point of view, it is deeply disappointing that the Poppy Project's proven expertise in working with trafficked women has not been given proper recognition or weight by the Ministry of Justice. The project has
extensive experience; it houses women in safe, women-only properties in London, Cardiff and Sheffield and provides intensive support addressing their myriad complex emotional, psychological and practical needs.
Between March 2003 and March 2011, it received 1,869 referrals, housed and supported 334 women, and provided outreach support to a further 449, all of whom were trafficked into, and exploited in the UK. The top five country
of origin for referrals are Nigeria, China, Lithuania, Albania and Romania.
So on an average year the Poppy Project received 234 referrals, housed 42 women and provided outreach support to a further 56. Hardly evidence of massive scale trafficking
And from a previous £1.8m for 1 year funding for housing 42 women works out at £117 per bed per night].
Scotland Yard has been accused of endangering sex workers after it emerged that police were targeting brothels in London's Olympic boroughs as part of a coordinated clean-up operation ahead of the 2012 games.
The Yard's human exploitation unit (SCD9) incorporates a team dedicated to tackling vice-related crime in the five Olympic host boroughs: Waltham Forest, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich.
Figures recently released to parliament by the Home Office show SCD9 carried out 80 brothel raids between January to August 2010 in the five boroughs. There were a further 20 raids in Westminster and 13 in Camden expected to host the majority of
tourists who come to the capital for the games. In contrast, in the remaining 25 London boroughs, there were just 29 raids over the same period.
But the probation union, Napo, claimed the crackdown would have unintended consequences. Attempts to remove sex workers from the Olympic boroughs will be only a partial success, said Harry Fletcher, Napo's assistant general secretary: The strategy will drive the trade underground and prohibition merely distorts the laws of supply and demand. As a consequence, the trade will be more dangerous for women. Policy initiatives should address real problems, such as housing, health and safety, and not be based on flawed ideology which distorts the market and endangers the women.
Figures from the Open Door agency, a health clinic based in East London, appear to partially confirm Napo's claim. The agency reported that there has already been a significant displacement of sex workers throughout Newham, with a decline of 25%
in referrals to health clinics since the previous year. Napo said it appeared the women had not stopped working, but were moving to other areas where they could be more at risk of rape, robbery and assault.
The London initiative comes amid the usual bollox claims that increased numbers of trafficked sex workers will try to work in the capital during the Olympics.
Research shows no increase in trafficking of women during international sports events, said a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes. Figures on the numbers of women trafficked into the UK have been exposed as false, yet
they are still used as an excuse to hound sex workers. Prohibition has never done anything but drive sex workers underground and into more danger. Is the government prepared for further tragedies like Ipswich and Bradford?
The government supported anti-prostitution organisation, Eaves, will make 14 roles redundant after a government decision to transfer funding for its Poppy Project to the Salvation Army. The organisation currently has 70 staff and 15 volunteers.
The Poppy Project, run by Eaves since 2003, has received £ 1.8m from the government for each of the past two years under a contract to provide specialist accommodation for female victims of trafficking.
But the Ministry of Justice has decided that the funding for the service for the next three years, which could total as much as £ 6m, will be awarded to the Salvation Army.
Eaves' Poppy Project offers 54 bed spaces, 37 of which are in London, with the remainder divided between locations in Cardiff and Sheffield, for the victims of trafficking. This number will be reduced to 16 because of the withdrawal of funding.
[ £ 1.8m for 1 year for 54 beds works out at £91 per bed per night].
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said bidders for the contract were required to demonstrate that they would ensure equality of access to support services for all victims, regardless of their religion, gender, sexuality or ethnicity