Thursday, May 13News For London

Covid: Trapped students are turning to selling sex

Many students have put themselves at risk to get enough money to help pay for university.

More and more students are turning into sex work. Survey conducted by Student Money Survey 2020, reveal 10 percent students consider adult work in a cash emergency, the number has doubled from 2019.

Source: Student Money Survey 2020

76% of students rely on part-time work to bring in extra income, due to the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, many students are unable to continue their part-time jobs, their support from student finance, parents and universities are also falls.

Most of them cannot afford the high rent cost and tuition fees, thus over a half of student who work in the sex industry state that, their motivation to do such job is to fund higher education.

Source: The Student Sex Work Project

Tom Allingham, head of editorial at ‘Save the Student’, describe the surge in the number of students turning to sex workers this year as “one of the toughest years financially for students for a very long time.”

Peter (required to use pseudonym), a driver and tour guide from London, says: “In the past, some tourists would ask for some ‘extra services’, and some of them want student escort.”

The driver used to take them to Brewer Street, SOHO, which have the most ‘walk-up’ flats in London.

In lockdown period, due to the decline of tourism and social distancing rules, all ‘walk-up’ flats and Massage stores which provide extra services have closed.

Photo by Tianhua Yun

A lot of student sex workers had stopped off-line working, and they switched to a new way of earning a living — selling sex online.

“It’s easy to fit around my studies. If I worked consistently, I’d be making a grand a week easily.” Kent, a second year University of student says.  

According to Student Money Survey, the most popular form of sex work among students are selling intimate pictures, accounted for nearly 30%.

Matthew, an 18-year-old boy from Canterbury Christ Church, says someone provided money for photos of his feet.

But there are some student sex workers still meeting clients in person, because it can earn more.

Websites like Cloudnine, Goldenkiss and Londonphotomodels are all providing student escorts services. In addition to photos, height and weight, the website also marked their ‘Academic Background’.

“Some of those sex workers pretend to be students.” Peter says. Better education seems to bring them more clients.

During the lockdown, clients are now making appointments online, via Telegram or whatsapp chat group. In the group, those agencies named there services as “offline-teaching”, “personal tutor” and “course evaluation”. The manager sends a PDF document containing the student escorts’ information every day. They also remind customers that “No cash — Due to COVID”.

Image by Tianhua Yun

The country’s only student sex worker support organization — ‘Support for Student Sex Workers‘ founded by Jessica Hyer Griffin, is now offering community support and online support sessions, as well as support both student in the industry and people who want to get out.

Further reading: The Student Sex Work Project