UK sex-workers hit hard by recession

The Economist claims that prostitution in the UK has been hard-hit by the down economy, with men treating sex-for-money as a luxury lacking precedence behind rent, petrol and energy bills. At the same time, more women are reportedly engaging in sex-work, looking for money in an economy with high unemployment and inflation and contracting welfare and benefits. This increases competition for sex-work, driving prices down further. Some sex workers are dropping their prices, and one independent escort in the south of England says that she believes that prostitution can no longer serve as full-time employment adequate to covering all bills and expenses .

The days of being able to make a full-time living out of prostitution are long gone, reckons Vivienne, at least in larger towns and cities. “It’s stupidly competitive right now,” she laments. More people are entering prostitution, agrees Cari Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes. Some working women in Westminster say they have halved their prices because the market has become so saturated. In London, and increasingly elsewhere, immigrants provide strong competition. But Sophie, an expensive escort in Edinburgh, says she is seeing an influx of newbies including students and the recently laid-off, many of them offering more for less.

Sex doesn’t sell [The Economist]

Notable Replies

  1. For those who oppose prostitution, is this reduction in demand a positive or a negative development?

  2. kd__ says:

    I guess that means that punters are getting more bang for their for their buck.

  3. Ever notice how almost no reports that discuss sex work even mentions the estimated 25% of the industry that's male?

  4. I suspect that it depends on what aspect(s) of prostitution they oppose; because the factors behind it also drive an increase in supply. With the supply increase in the picture, I'd be inclined to say that it's probably a bad thing.

    If prostitutes had other (good) options, a decrease in demand would drive a decrease in supply, as people either left the market or never entered it in response to the poor returns available. Since that isn't happening, and people are entering the market (and, more specifically, even entering more dangerous areas of the market that experienced prostitutes historically preferred to avoid), the picture seems to be fairly bleak.

    If one derives some moral satisfaction from former Johns now too poor to buy, I guess there's that; but I'd be a lot more concerned about the prostitutes who, in increasing numbers, are dividing up a smaller return, sometimes for more dangerous work, and who (based on the fact that they are still entering the market, despite the fact that doing so has become less attractive) apparently have few or lousy other options.

  5. Unfortunately I think this is exactly what most opponents of prostitution would be focusing on. Maybe I'm being too general, but in my experience anti-prostitution advocates care about as much about women in dire straits as anti-abortion advocates care about babies.

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