Prostitutes union also says student numbers have doubled since tuition fees increase announced
ON THE DAY that unemployment figures climbed to a 17-year high, the National Union of Students (NUS) has claimed that the government’s austerity measures are responsible for a rise in student prostitution, the BBC reports.
The NUS national women’s officer Estelle Hart told the Breakfast programme: “In an economic climate where there are very few jobs, where student support has been massively cut, people are taking more work in the informal economy, such as sex work.”
The English Collective of Prostitutes, which runs a helpline, claims the number of calls from students has doubled in the past year since the announcement that tuition fees would rise to a maximum of £9,000 a year in 2012.
“They [ministers] know that the cuts they’re making are driving women into sex work,” said the ECP’s Sarah Walker. “We hold the government responsible for that.”
The BBC reports a teenager’s claim that the government’s decision to cut the education maintenance allowance (EMA) led to her entering the sex industry.
The report follows October’s revelation that debt-stricken Irish students are increasingly turning to escort arrangements to fund their studies. According to the Irish Examiner, hundreds of “college sugar babies” are now having “short-term relationships with rich businessmen”, a figure which has shot up since the recession began.
Last year, research from the University of Kingston found that 16 per cent of students would consider working in the sex industry. Doctor Ron Roberts, who authored the study, blamed excessive financial pressure on students and accused the government of “burying their heads in the sand”.
Responding to today’s claims, a spokesman for the Department for Education said that extra financial support was being arranged for vulnerable students and those previously receiving EMA. “It is down to schools and colleges themselves to award bursaries to young people who need the most help. If students are really struggling financially, they need to speak directly to their tutors”, the spokesman said. ·