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The cost-of-living crisis is sparking a rise in sex workers

A UK organisation has flagged that the number of women turning to sex work in order to cope with the cost-of-living crisis is rising. Its services operates in numerous cities across the country, advising women on how to remain safe at work and how to stay within the lines of the law.

With the growing popularity of adult content-sharing platforms such as OnlyFans, the definition of sex work has expanded and shifted further into mainstream consciousness.

Whereas traditional adult content production companies were ruled by a hierarchy of directors, producers, and film stars, OnlyFans has allowed those partaking in content-based sex work to take full control of their output.

All of these factors have led to the industry becoming somewhat destigmatised.

Sex work can even be perceived as an empowering and an attractive option for those looking to gain extra income. This rings truer during times of unpredictable economic hardship, such as the pandemic.

Though most of us are back to our day jobs, inflation is at the highest it’s been in three decades.

In the UK, it’s been reported that one in seven people are skipping meals to shave off household costs. For many, the brutal reality will be choosing between heating and eating throughout winter’s coldest months.

As a result, a support organisation for sex workers called the English Collective of Prostitutes has flagged a spike in the number of women engaging in sex work as a secondary job to survive financially.

Niki Adams, a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes said, ‘The cost-of-living crisis is now pushing women into sex work in various ways – whether that’s on the street, in premises or online.

‘Across the board what we’re seeing is people coming to that work from a place of desperation. That means they are much less able to protect themselves from violence and exploitation,’ she continued.

Though many of those newly engaging in sex work say the money they earn has been ‘life changing’ during the current economic crisis, many individuals regularly fear for their safety.

It’s important to note that sex work inside a premises is legal in England and Wales. For many, conducting this work from home minimises risks. Others with access to a private home and Wi-Fi are only operating online.

Women as young as twenty years old are utilising platforms like OnlyFans to pay the bills.

With job loss during the pandemic and rising costs of inflation occurring back-to-back, many who recently moved out of their parent’s homes are barely making enough to stay afloat.

Still, safety can’t always be assured by a screen, with numerous women reporting being stalked, harassed, and blackmailed by those subscribing to the content.

Thanks to organisations like the one Niki Adams works for, women earning money through sex work are banding together to ensure the practice remains decriminalised, is safer for all involved, and ensures individuals have a strong support network.

You can learn more about the work of the organisation here.