Male students ‘turning to sex work’ to avoid getting into debt

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Male students are becoming increasingly likely to turn to sex work to make ends meet at university, a study has found.

The Student Sex Work Project, which was conducted by researchers at Swansea University, surveyed 6,773 students from across the UK.

It found that 2.4% of male respondents had been involved in direct sex work – such as prostitution and escort services – while 3.5% had made money through indirect sex work – such as webcam shows, phone sex chat lines, or starring in porn.

This is higher than for female students – 1.3% of whom are involved in direct sex work, and 2.7% indirect.

A vast number of men had also considered indirect sex work – with 14.7% considering it to make money, compared to 8.8% for direct sex work.

The majority of respondents who were involved in sex work said they had turned to it to help fund their education and lifestyle, and to avoid getting into debt.

Dr Tracey Sagar, who led the study, told the Guardian: “Sex work is widely but wrongly perceived to be an occupation that is predominantly taken up by women and this means that males may fall through the student support net because they are not associated with sex work occupations.”

She continued: “We now have firm evidence that students are engaged in the sex industry across the UK.

“The majority of these students keep their occupations secret and this is because of social stigma and fears of being judged by family and friends.

“And we have to keep in mind that not all students engaged in the industry are safe or feel safe.

“It is vital now that universities arm themselves with knowledge to better understand student sex work issues and that university services are able to support students where support is needed.”

“This is the reality, students are engaged in sex work occupations – this is a fact. Another fact is that some of them need advice, support and sometimes assistance to step away from the industry.

“At the moment, students feel so stigmatised and judged that they are afraid or at least very reluctant to disclose their occupations to staff and services at universities that could help them.

“Stereotyping is also a problem.”