The rising cost of living in the UK is forcing women into sex work, while women already in the industry are often forced to meet clients on the streets and unable to turn away dangerous clients, outreach workers warned on Saturday.
The calls to the English Collective of Prostitutes’ helpline have increased by a third this summer with wages failing to keep up with spiraling prices and inflation and energy bills at a record high.
Niki Adams, the spokeswoman of the London-based group that advises women in the sex industry how to stay say safe and out of trouble with the law, says that they’re seeing people coming to that work from a place of desperation.
That also means they’re much less able to protect themselves from violence and exploitation.
Adams told about a mother of four she works with that had to start doing a couple of evenings a week on the streets just to pay the bills after losing hundreds of pounds when the UK’s benefits program moved to the Universal Credit system.
The UK government admits that by the time the switchover is completed, over 900,000 welfare recipients will be made worse off.
Some of the women selling sex are doing so for agencies, which often force them to work in unsafe conditions and to provide sex without protection, Adams added, noting that even clients are in a position where they can’t say no.
Beyond The Streets, a UK charity that helps women leave prostitution, has registered an increase in women selling ‘survival sex’, called that way because it’s the only choice these women can make to survive.
Support worker Nikki McNeill says that with the inflation in the country crossing the 10% threshold last month and millions of Britons potentially facing a winter of heat and food shortages, it’s done to meet basic needs like food and rent.
McNeill’s organization is lobbying for an increase in government benefits to low-income households beyond the $1,491 in direct payments and $473 in energy payments.
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