London Prostitutes Choose Their Job, Not Forced into Sex Trade, Says Survey


Turning tricks a better bet than cleaning for many women

London Prostitutes Choose Their Job, Not Forced into Sex Trade, Says Survey.

LONDON'S prostitutes in the vast majority have not been forced into the sex industry, according to a new survey to be presented today.

Though human trafficking is a real issue for probably hundreds of migrant women in London, many thousands more are in the sex industry out of choice, a research team at London Metropolitan University has found.

"The perception that the sex industry is connected to international organised crime has raised moral panic about trafficking," said Dr Nick Mai, the research team's leader.

"Neither the moral panic, nor legislation brought in to counter trafficking, reflects existing research evidence."

Mai's unit reports that 94% of the 100 migrant sex workers interviewed said they had not been coerced into prostitution.

Instead, the majority moved into the sex industry after they had had enough of low-paying jobs such as cleaning and carer work.

"The evidence strongly suggests that current attempts to curb trafficking and exploitation by criminalising clients and closing down commercial sex establishments will not be effective because as a result the sex industry will be pushed further underground," reads a line from the report.

"People working in it will be further marginalised and vulnerable to exploitation."

Sex worker organisations welcomed the report, arguing that trafficking is mainly a problem thanks to the illegal status of some immigrants.

"We will only successfully target trafficking within the sex industry when we make policy based on evidence and in reality," said Catherine Stephens of the International Union of Sex Workers.

"There is currently a climate of fear amongst London sex workers due to police activity that is driven by hype and misinformation.

"It is time to give people in the sex industry – whether from the UK or migrant – the same human rights and protection of the law as others.”

Given its status on the fringes of the law, solid figures for the number of prostitutes working in London are hard to come by, but estimates of 10,000 are common. Of those, 80% are reckoned to be foreign-born. A survey from 2000 suggested that around 10% of men in the UK have paid women for sex.

The sex worker report - In whose name? Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking – is to be presented as part of the Festival of Social Science at LMU today.

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2011-11-08 19:42.

If the interviewers found their subjects via advertisements for prostitution, it would have been impossible to determine whether or not these people were trafficked. I was a prostitute for ten years, and if someone answered one of my pimps ads and came in and talk to me, I'd say everything was fine, even though the truth was I was raped, beaten, and locked in a windowless room quite often. I was afraid for my life.

It's a stain on London Metropolitan University that they are allowing Nick Mai, a man who has admitted having 'relationships' with 'sex migrant worker' women, to conduct such dubious studies. This is a man who is abusing his power.

I imagine his motives in this direction go beyond trying to make it with a few beaten, traumatized women. It's very profitable, the pimping business. They want people like Nick Mai doing their unscientific studies.

Nick Mai is admittedly a John -- someone who likes to abuse his power by buying powerless women's bodies. He should not have an academic career at any university.

Submitted by Stella Marr on Tue, 2011-11-08 02:24.

This is a bogus survey. They found their interview subjects by answering ads for hookers. So if someone was trafficked they would have been too terrified to say so. Additionally, their sample of 100 only includes 67 women, but 99 percent of people trafficked in prostitution are women.

Since they answer ads where girls were 'working' one wonders if they also partook of 'services.'

I was gang raped by two pimps and held against my will until I began working in their brothel. If someone had answered an ad (and my picture was used to advertise the brothel) and asked me questions about trafficking, I would have been too terrified to answer. Additionally, my pimp would never have allowed it.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-10-31 17:01.

You interviewed 100 women and think you have proof that the problem doesn't exist in estimated proportions? Then you give statistics that you admit are not solid and you "reckoned" are correct. Estimates? You must be owned by Village Voice Media.

Submitted by David on Tue, 2011-11-01 09:14.

Yes, the article made it clear the figures were estimates, given that prostitution exists on the fringes of the law. Do you think no estimates should ever be used in such cases?

On the poll: 100 sounds a small number, but is actually quite a large sample out of a London sex worker total of 10,000, when compared to, say, opinion polls for national voting intention. The latter typically interview 1,000 people to represent an electorate of forty-odd million.

But you are right to say that none of this constitutes "proof", which is why phrases like "according to a new survey" exist.

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