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Student sex work study underway at Swansea University


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As statistics expose a growing number of students turning to sex work, an ambitious project based in Swansea, South Wales, aims to push student sex work out from its hazy obscurity and into public consciousness.

A study conducted in 2010 by Kingston University revealed that the number of university students who know someone who has worked in the sex industry to fund their studies has rapidly risen from 3% to 25% in only 10 years. This paired with a bleak economic forecast has highlighted the need to address a worrying uphill trend.

However, despite a spate of statistics about the number of sex workers, little is known about the sex workers themselves and students’ attitudes towards them.

Barbara Wilding, the former chief constable of South Wales Police, commented that: “this is an emerging area and this is the area we don't know very much about at all.”

The Student Sex Worker Project is an ambitious three year project funded by the Big Lottery, in collaboration with the Terrence Higgins Trust and NUS Wales, and is based at Swansea University. Its pioneering research is the first of its kind. While student sex work remains a contentious topic that often generates debates, we are still left with considerable blind spots in our understanding of students’ involvement in the marginalised world of sex work.

Its aims include providing great understanding about student sex workers’ experiences, what students think about sex work and adult entertainment and most crucially, offering support to those personally involved in a burgeoning sex industry.  A

s part of a move to shed light on an otherwise neglected issue, the Student Sex Worker Project invites all students to fill in their ‘Student Sex Survey’ about attitudes towards sex work.

Importantly, student sex workers are urged to contact the project, which provides a safe space to discuss any issues in complete confidence.

September has been an eventful month for the project whose campaigners have wound through Wales, attending each university's Freshers’ Fayre to promote the ‘I love safe sex’ campaign and their survey, giving out thousands of goodie bags, 3,000 sweets and 1,500 condoms on their way.

To discuss your experiences, please visit the TSSWP website, which also offers comprehensive sexual health and personal safety advice. You can also get in touch through their Twitter @TSSWP or their Facebook group.

The ‘Student Sex Survey’ will be closing towards the end of October. If you are a student and haven’t already filled in the survey, click here to complete the survey to be in on a chance to win £70 in Tesco vouchers and a box of condoms.

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