Most migrant sex workers are not forced to sell sex

October 31, 2011

Most migrants working in the London sex industry do not feel they are forced to sell sex. In fact, they decide to work in the sex industry to achieve a good standard of living for themselves and their families back home. They say working in the sex industry avoids employment in menial and poorly paid jobs. These are the findings of a study led by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is based on in-depth interviews with 100 women, men and transgender migrants working in the London sex industry.

The findings will be presented at a half-day event, "In whose name? Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking". The event, as part of the ESRC's Festival of Social Science, is open to all with a specific focus on targeting policymakers, rights organisations, community services, and the media to attend.

"The perception that the commercial sex industry is connected to international organised crime and irregular immigration has raised moral panic about trafficking in the UK. Neither the moral panic, nor legislation brought in to counter trafficking, reflects existing research evidence," says Dr Mai. "To avoid knee-jerk reactions and to obtain a better understanding of the issues, it's essential that the findings of recent and relevant research are made known to the government and the public at large."

The presentation will be followed by a screening of a work in progress a cut of Dr Mai's documentary which draws on his research findings.

In addition to the ESRC funded research, the results of two recent and relevant studies will be presented. These were carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the x:talk project.

Dr Lucy Platt and Pippa Grenfell from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will present the key findings of a linked survey and qualitative study, funded by the Medical Research Council, which explores risks and vulnerability among migrant and non-migrant female sex workers in London.

The report, Human rights, sex work and the challenge of trafficking, produced by x:talk will be the focus of a third presentation. Ava Caradonna (pseudonym), spokesperson for x:talk says, "We've always suspected that attempts to address human trafficking have been co-opted by people with another agenda - eradication of the sex industry. What this report highlights is that rather than assisting and supporting trafficked people, anti-trafficking policies have been effective at putting the safety, health and even the lives of sex workers at risk. The policies have also helped make sex workers a soft target for the Border Agency."

Explore further: Teenagers know about why don't they use them?

Related Stories

Inexperienced prostitutes most at risk of sexual infections

December 12, 2008

Less experienced prostitutes are more likely to have sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A study of more than a thousand female sex workers in Cambodia, reported in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases, has ...

Recommended for you

Humans in America '115,000 years earlier than thought'

April 26, 2017

High-tech dating of mastodon remains found in southern California has shattered the timeline of human migration to America, pushing the presence of hominins back to 130,000 years ago rather than just 15,000 years, researchers ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Oct 31, 2011
"The perception that the commercial sex industry is connected to international organised crime" Interesting that nothing here is said that this is not in that the case.

The piece starts with the word "Most" not "All"--thus acknowledging that some do in fact "feel they are forced to sell sex".

A quick look at Wikipedia reveals x:talk has its own agenda: "the autonomy of all people moving across borders and the dignity of every gender employing their resources in the sex industry".
not rated yet Oct 31, 2011
Did someone really get a grant to do this study?
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2011
The invisible hand of the Capitalist free market is a subtle task master compelling even children to rent themselves for gold.

Unregulated Free Markets are unquestionably immoral.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2011
Did someone really get a grant to do this study?

No doubt and definatly worth the money as it cuts through most of the political bullshit surrounding this issue.
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
In general, the migrants have their limits of moral criterions decreased. They're more liberal just because they decided to migrate. The conservative people are conservative with respect to sexual crimes too - they tend to violate the taboo not less, but in privacy.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.