Posts Tagged ‘cuts’
Prostitutes and the recession: How David Cameron’s cuts are affecting British women – The IndependentIn Comment and Opinion, Features, Interviews, Newspaper Contributions, Women on May 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm
The sex industry like most others is feeling the effects of the credit crunch. But in a grim role-reversal, it’s not the booming industry that’s suffering but its workers. As the cost of living rises and wages remain ruefully stagnant, increasing numbers of women have turned to prostitution in order to support themselves.
Its lucrative potential to put a meal on a plate or a bill in an envelope has meant that from the depths of these Dickensian hard times re-emerges the archaic truism: women are driven to prostitution by economic misfortune.
I spoke to a member of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) which campaigns for the protection and decriminalisation of prostitutes, without endorsing or morally sanctioning prostitution itself. They told me that in light of Mr. Cameron’s cuts, “every time there’s a benefit cut, it forces women onto the game.”
The sucker-punch effects of the economic climate and the scathing cuts to welfare and benefits are even driving many women who had left the trade and turned their lives around to return in order to feed their families. As one travelling sex-worker who works with the ECP explains, “Prostitution is certainly not the worst job I have ever had. I have worked on the fish market and as a cleaner where I was working for people who didn’t care if we were cold or tired or how we were spoken to. I was fed up of being a cleaner, bar maid and shop assistant, often all on the same day.”
There is a gross misconception about prostitution in the UK; about what type of person a prostitute is, and who could never be one. Many have been thrown out of their homes, raped, and are not yet old enough to claim benefits. Many others are women who are forced to supplement their incomes. As the think-tank The Resolution Foundation reported in October 2011, more than one in five employees earn less than a “living wage”.
Another member of the ECP’s network, a part-time street worker, blames benefit cuts and job losses for driving women onto the game, along with negative stereotyping for the lack of awareness surrounding prostitution today: “Everybody has their own view of what a prostitute is. In reality it is your sister, your neighbour, your mother, that has struggled to feed, clothe, heat a home and provide a safe environment for the people she loves. This is becoming more apparent with all the benefit cuts and job losses. The reason it has been so well hidden is because of the criminality of it. That is it.”
Most sex workers are mothers who think “just this once”, “just this week” to cover a heating bill or make something a bit special to eat. Then we get stuck in something we can never get out of. I never thought the first time I went out that I would still be here at my age. Now I have a record so can’t get another job. It was because I care that I did go on the street.” Read the rest of this entry »