UK women turning to escort work due to cost of living crisis
Vulnerable women in the United Kingdom are being forced to engage in what is referred to as "survival sex" as Britain's economic situation is worsening.
Women are increasingly being compelled to participate in "survival sex" as the cost of living crisis worsens for the UK's most disadvantaged.
Charities worry that escalating prices, combined with years of underfunding, are forcing women, particularly those suffering from trauma and mental illness, to turn to sex in return for accommodation or to satisfy other basic requirements.
According to The Observer, it is especially a problem for migratory women and asylum seekers. The issue is also making it more difficult for people who want to leave violent situations.
According to organization Beyond the Streets, the cost-of-living problem is causing many who are already vulnerable to turn to survival sex to pay bills and rent, resulting in greater exploitation and abuse.
A charity support worker stated that she has spoken to women who are locked in escorting or selling sex, as well as many who are forced to "top up" low-wage employment with sex to make ends meet.
According to a charity spokesperson, "The cost-of-living crisis is a driver [of survival sex], and for those already vulnerable, they face considerable exploitation. There is a lack of government funding to support the needs of women, and charities are struggling as their incomes reduce, expenses increase and they are faced with more demands on their services.”
In recent months, Latin American Women's Aid (LAWA) has encountered many examples of "sex for rent" involving female asylum applicants. In one example, a lady had been couch-surfing for several months when she met a man who claimed to provide her with lodging before sexually abusing her as she slept.
Women experiencing financial abuse
Belén Ruiz, the charity’s violence against women and girls advice centre coordinator, expressed that women in these circumstances are being "doubly victimized and unable to seek redress."
In some cases, Ruiz stated that this occurs in public law accommodation facilities, which makes the women afraid of accessing such services.
Tilly Smith, from the Generation Rent campaign group stated that the danger is growing as a "particularly bleak" economic situation becomes more apparent.
Women's Aid stated that many who contacted them were in "dire and desperate need" and that growing living costs were making it even more difficult for individuals to exit abusive marriages.
"In the difficult economic context that we're in at the moment, we know that women are experiencing increased and exacerbated levels of controlling and financial abuse from perpetrators," said Lucy Hadley, the charity's head of policy.
Action not addressing root cause of problem
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, stated last week that she was proposing a new rule targeting landlords who exploit vulnerable individuals for sex and issued a request for evidence. It came after a trial of one-time payments to help domestic abuse victims leave abusive relationships was announced last month.
While Hadley called the fund a "good first step," she noted that it fell short of the £1 million goal, and that the action on sex for rent was not addressing the root causes of the problem, which she identified as homelessness, poverty, and inequality.
A spokesperson from the UK's Home Office stated that exploitation through "sex for rent" was already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act and that the government had launched a call for evidence that would help end the harmful trend.
“We are committed to stopping all forms of violence and intimidation against women and girls, including domestic abuse. While we directly fund charities to help victims leave abusive relationships, we also will invest over £230m more widely through our Tackling Domestic Abuse plan," the spokesperson said.