Wales

The students who turn to sex work to make ends meet

Image copyright Visual Influence

More than a fifth of students have thought about being involved in the sex industry, according to a major research project.

More than 6,750 students from across the UK took part in an online study by Swansea University.

It claims nearly 5% of them had actually worked in the sex industry and male students were more likely to become involved than women.

Here are a few of the stories gathered as part of the Student Sex Work Project by students and graduates from the University of South Wales for a film on the issue.

Lecturer professor Chris Morris, who directed and produced the Fog of Sex film, said: "These are not people on the streets or who are fuelling habits. We interviewed students from universities across the UK and they were very much the educated elite of this country."

All names have been changed, and pictures have been posed by actors voicing the girls's stories.


Holly

Image copyright Visual Influence

Glamour model Holly is a second year environmental and civil engineering student who wanted to leave university without any debt.

"I do glamour work, mostly photo-shoots, but I also do hosting events.

"Basically it's a business but my studies come first. It is time-money management.

"I'm quite good with saving money. I just fit in as many shoots as I can and pretty much save that, because I don't get a student loan. I'm paying the fees with the money from modelling.

"I'm not doing anything wrong or illegal. I'm not hurting anyone.

"I think I'm not doing anything wrong or illegal, or hurting anybody. I'm paying for my uni, this is a good thing for me, I'm going to leave with minimal amounts of debt.

"My friends rush home to work ten hours waitressing. I've never left a shoot thinking that was hard work.

"You know, it's very empowering. If you think I'm the first person to do this at uni, or I'm the only one who does it right now, you're wrong."


Lisa

Image copyright Visual Influence

Third-year student Lisa made £400 on her first night working on a phone chat sex line. The thought of clearing her debt kept her going.

"I was a grand into my overdraft. I get absolutely nothing, no help from anyone really. I don't qualify for any grants. And I get very little from my parents, so having a job is kind of imperative.

"There's a problem hiring students because they know we go home at Christmas and we leave at the summer. I didn't get hired at Asda - I was over-qualified, which was ridiculous.

"As a bit of extra cash I thought it was really easy.

"It was more of a buzz than anything as the calls came in a lot the first night.

"I guess it is more fascination from guys when you're a new user. My phone didn't stop ringing. I guess it is like when a new restaurant opens and everyone wants to try it out.

"But yeah, I think I made like £400 by the time I went to bed at 1pm. So I was a bit like, I'm sorted, this will clear my debt.

"I think there is something very powerful about that, just my voice, sort of like acting, just like theatre.

"I think I grew up a bit maybe or something happened in me and I thought I just don't want to do this anymore.

"I created some savings. I think I earned about £3,000 over the summer, which is still in my bank account, and I haven't touched yet.

"But at what cost? It became like a chore, and it made me feel quite sick. I thought at the beginning that I was in control and then you sort of realise you're not."


Posie

Image copyright Visual Influence

Computer science student Posie was 18 and at college when she turned to escorting to get the funds to go to university.

"I don't hate men, but I just don't like the fact that they are trying to own you. As soon as they have paid that money they can do whatever they want with you.

"University is very daunting and I didn't have money for that, I think that was the reason that sort of started me off.

"The escort agency was run by women... so I felt like I would give it a go.

"I got dropped of at the place and then rang the doorbell, a man came to the door, and like, he was so horrible looking.

"I went in there and he offered me a glass of wine, I looked at his DVD collection, and then, when we went into the bedroom. I cried. Luckily the lights were off, so he couldn't tell.

"I had £150 and he had given me some extra money as well and it didn't seem worth it, but I was like, 'that's a lot of money to me'. In the taxi, I burst out crying.

"I could only work weekends because I was a full time student so I would catch the bus in on a Friday night after college, with all my stuff and all my clothes. To start with, it was really busy. I quickly become quite popular so it was sort of like 10 in a weekend.

"Over time it just become normality, just got used to it, it was part of me now - in the week I'd do my own thing and then on the weekend I was 'Tilly', bring back a lot of money.

"I don't know how much I made in a year, but I'd come back each weekend and I'd made sort of, around £1,000 each time.

"I wished I saved it, I wanted to save it and I started saving it but I was 18. I have nothing to show for it."


Amy

Amy who appeared in pornographic films Image copyright Visual Influence

Counselling student Amy ended up appearing in pornographic films after her boyfriend saw an advert appealing for people to get in touch.

"It was my partner who found an advert in one of the little corner shops, of all places, and he set it all up.

"I went, did whatever they asked and whoever was there.

"The first time the gentleman turned up outside my house in a kind of beat-up car, so when I got to his house - it was literally his house - it was very normal looking, but he did have a very tidy one room which was plain but well lit.

"I was extremely nervous, if I could have, I probably would have backed out but he introduced me to the female who I was doing this with just to see if I would fit the work basically.

"It carried on for, I'd probably say about five months so I probably did about seven or eight different films with different people.

"I didn't know it at the time, but the first one I didn't get anything for, it was just mainly to see what I was like really. But after that, the ones on my own were £50, if I was with a male I think it was about £75, and if I had another female it was more.

"My partner dealt with it all, so I didn't realise what was going on. But afterwards, when you know, I started to ask about it, I did learn a bit more and I actually wasn't getting that much for them.

"He [my partner] was quite controlling. I was very manipulated and I know that now, but nothing I can do about it."

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