LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Martha, 29, an online sex worker, says her income is dwindling due to Britain’s cost-of-living crisis. That’s partly because her skyrocketing cost of living has led to more women turning to prostitution, and the competition is fierce.
“Everyone is desperate to make money, and they’re offering more services for less,” said Martha, who asked to use a pseudonym to keep her identity private.
“I’m worried that the worse the financial situation, the worse the situation will be,” Martha said. In recent months, he said, his income has dropped from £250 a day ($400) to £150 a day.
Martha took up the job last year after being laid off due to layoffs. She later took a job as a sales assistant in a retail business, but she was saving for childbirth and needed the extra income to cover her higher living expenses. she speaks.
Charities and sex workers’ unions across the UK have reported an increase in the number of people starting or resuming sex work this year. This is because the country’s consumer price index (CPI) has risen by about 10% year-on-year, the highest among the G7 countries.
The Prostitutes of England (ECP), a network of current and former sex workers campaigning for the decriminalization of prostitution, saw a 30% surge in calls for help to start a sex business in June. And according to the charity Beyond the Streets, more women are reopening or expanding into the sex industry.
Manchester Action on Street Health (MASH), a charity that supports women sex workers, has surpassed 100 new clients between December 2021 and April 2022. It was the highest quarterly figure in four years.
While the number of new entrants into the sex industry is increasing, the tighter the user’s purse strings, the more likely that the workers will be forced to provide unwilling services or be forced to take greater risks. Advocates warn.
“The harder it gets, the more you’re offering services you wouldn’t normally want to do,” said ECP spokeswoman Laura Watson.
Sex for money is legal in the UK, but advocacy groups are hampered by laws against soliciting or facilitating prostitution, which could endanger those who start the business. says that there is
“I am very concerned about the safety implications of going into the sex industry for the first time without consulting anyone,” Watson said.
Britain is the world’s fifth-largest economy, but food and energy prices continue to outpace wage growth, and this spring saw the biggest fall in real wages for domestic workers since 2001. . Many workers are forced to look for side jobs.
A recent survey by insurer Royal London found that more than 5 million workers in the UK have taken up side jobs to help cover the rising cost of living.
Some of them choose the sex industry. This is because of the flexibility of working hours and the fact that it is a quick and easy way to earn extra income, either temporarily or on a regular basis.
“Many women have other jobs or receive unemployment benefits and are looking to increase their income,” said ECP’s Watson.
“There will be women on the streets just trying to make ends meet,” said Watson, adding that about 70 percent of the ECP network are mothers.
A study by the charity Young Women’s Trust found that women were hit harder than men by the cost of living crisis. Nearly half of single mothers have been unable to buy groceries or basic necessities in the past year, and three out of 10 young mothers have skipped their own meals to feed their children. It says.
Claire Reindorp, the group’s chief executive, says many women don’t have access to low-cost childcare or job opportunities that allow them to work extra hours at their usual job to boost their income.
But according to Tess Harman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of York’s School of Business and Social Sciences, worker protection is weak in the sex industry, and inflation makes it difficult to raise prices for services.
“Utilities and groceries will rise, but many wages will stay the same, especially in precarious jobs and the gig economy,” he said.
Martha creates adult content for customers who contact her directly through digital content subscription services, adult sites and Twitter.
The amount paid by clients to online sex workers is reportedly declining. Payments from customers include subscription fees and pay-per-view payments, as well as paying sex workers for directly requested content or giving tips.
Some adult content creators on subscription services say their income has fallen by 30% in the last two months. Meanwhile, according to the service’s transparency report, applications for creator accounts increased by nearly 200,000 in September compared to the previous year.
“If the pie is getting smaller and more workers are competing, the bargaining power of workers with their customers will be greatly reduced,” said Audrey Caradonna, a spokeswoman for the union United Sex Workers. .
Ms. Caradonna’s view of the risks faced by those entering the sex industry echoes Ms. Watson’s concerns. Two new measures to regulate the online sex industry could turn inexperienced sex workers into riskier jobs, he said.
The first is that US mastercard, a payment service provider, tightened its policy on adult sites last year. Second, the UK’s Online Safety Bill is moving towards banning sexual advertising from websites.
“The more people working in areas known for prostitution, the more people will come into contact with the police, and they will be forced to work in more isolated areas,” said Caradonna. It will be much higher.”
Despite these concerns, Martha says the sex industry has given her financial security in difficult circumstances.
“I don’t think I can survive without this job.”
(Beatrice Tridimas, Translated by Eacleren)