Trigger Warning: this article contains statistics of violence and language of a sexual nature.
Words by Laura Flowers, Academic Executive 2020/2021
Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
I wanted to make it clear that as a union, we support all of our students, including those who are sex workers. In England and Wales, the selling of sex is legal, however, some activities are illegal.
According to Ugly Mugs, a charity which supports Sex Workers and works to protect them from violence, 152 sex workers have been murdered since 1990 in the UK, and in 2015 alone they received over 530 reports of violence; 25% of reports contained a rape or other sexual assault, and 46% of reports contained violence. In that same year, they sent out 80,000 SMS warnings to sex workers nationwide alerting them of dangerous perpetrators in their area. We also can’t ignore the fact that people of colour and trans people are disproportionately affected.
If you are reading this and you are a student who does work in the sex industry, I would like to assure you that you are not alone. Research has shown that 5% of students have engaged in the sex industry and 20% have considered it (The Student Sex Work Project, 2015).
Everybody has the right to safety and security at work, sex work is a job like any other. We stand by our students who have made that choice of work.
If you are a sex worker and you need some accessible information on how to ensure you are following the law and keeping safe, our friends at the University of Leicester have put together a student toolkit with the assistance of current and former student sex workers and the services who work alongside them. Please follow this link to a student toolkit.
If you are a De Montfort University (DMU) student and require any additional support, please know that you can contact:
DMU Mandala Project - who can support you if you have experienced sexual violence, including rape and sexual assault, domestic abuse and sexual harassment. Please note Mandala is only open when DMU is open.
SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) - A collective led by sex workers to campaign for the rights and safety of all who sell sexual services.
Pineapple Support - Free and subsidised emotional support and professional therapy for adult industry performers.
National Ugly Mugs - Reporting scheme to help protect those involved in sex work from violent and abusive individuals.
UAVA- the Local Statutary Service for sexual violence and domestic abuse in Leicestershire.
As long it is legal, as your Students’ Union we are here to support you regardless of your choices. Please reach out should you need us.
Further information is available at:
The Student Sex Work Project (2015) Research Summary. Available here.
National Union of Students (2018) Student Sex Worker Briefing. Available here.