Conference seeks views of student sex workers
STUDENT sex workers are being urged to get in touch with Swansea researchers hosting a conference tomorrow.
It will bring together people working with sex workers, policy makers, student support services, student union representatives and sexual health practitioners.
The conference has been organised as part of Swansea University’s three-year Student Sex Work Project, which got under way in June.
A new website will be up and running following tomorrow’s event, and researchers hope that sex workers will come forward to share their views in confidence to help shape a new policy in Wales on the subject.
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Project leader Tracey Sagar said: “One question we are regularly asked is, ‘What do we mean by sex work?’ For us, sex work has a broad meaning but we are aware that most people associate it with women who sell sexual acts for money, in other words the common understanding of prostitution.
“Our project identifies sex work as including activities such as erotic dancing, web cam sex, phone chat sex, escort work, massage parlour work as well work in the porn industry.
“Also, our project emphasises that sex work is not associated only with women but also men and transgender workers.”
Visitors to the new website can get sexual health and safety advice, and can also get in touch via Twitter and Facebook.
Researchers will also be at events such as fresher fairs and student nights to learn more about student sex workers.
The project has had a £489,143 grant from the Big Lottery Fund and also involves Debbie Jones, of the university’s Centre for Criminal Justice and Criminology in collaboration with groups including the Terrence Higgins Trust.
Dr Sagar added: “We have an enthusiastic project team who can’t wait to engage with students and sex workers in Wales and we really do believe that in working together we will be able to bring down discriminatory and prejudicial barriers and work to ensure that the right policies and services are in place.”
Big Lottery Fund Wales committee member Barbara Wilding said the research will reveal the motivations and needs of sex workers for the first time.
Steve Jones, national director of Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru, said: “There is a real need to identify the extent of sex work among the student population in Wales, not only to help develop resources for the students themselves but also to give universities and local and national Government bodies a greater understanding of the issue as a whole.”