The number of calls to the English Collective of Prostitutes – a grassroots organisation of sex workers – has surged by a third, figures have shown
Women are being forced into sex work in a desperate bid to make money amid the cost of living crisis.
The north London-based organisation, which has helplines and national hubs in several major cities, advises sex workers on how to keep themselves safe.
Spokeswoman Niki Adams told Sky News: “The cost of living crisis is now pushing women into sex work in various ways – whether that’s on the street, in premises or online.
“Across the board what we’re seeing is people coming to that work from a place of desperation.
“That means they are much less able to protect themselves from violence and exploitation.
“And it also means the conditions of sex work are deteriorating to a point where they are putting women’s lives at risk.”
Annie Emery, CEO at MASH, a charity that provides support for sex workers, added: “Over the past two years we have seen how the Covid-19 pandemic and changes to the welfare system have exacerbated many women’s already precarious life situations. When Covid-19 hit, we saw a big increase in women who lost income overnight, requiring emergency food parcels, who were asked to leave accommodation or who had no way of isolating.
“Women, unpaid-carers, workers on zero-hours’ contracts etc. were already struggling and these living cost hikes are pushing more into complete crisis and survival mode.
“‘MASH has been around for 30 years and we are concerned that we’re now starting to engage with women who moved on from sex work years ago. It is clear that their financial struggles are leaving women with extremely limited and insecure options.
“There are also more women coming to us for the first time who have turned to sex work as their last option to keep a roof over their heads. What is consistent is the strength, resilience and perseverance of the women we support who are simply trying to live day to day.
“Looking at what’s to come we are predicting demand for our services will only increase so we are incredibly grateful to individuals who donate to MASH and ensure we can continue to provide this vital lifeline. As a small charity with limited resources, the predicted increase in need is a concern.”