In 2015 The Student Sex Work Project found that roughly 5% of students were involved in sex work. Considering the worsening economic climate since 2015 and the looming cost of living crisis we recognise that this number is likely higher now. Although sex work seems to remain incredibly stigmatised, Cambridge Students’ Union supports a student’s right to choose to engage in sex work for any reason - economic or otherwise. We are committed to providing support and advice to student sex workers in our community.
SEX WORKERS - KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The laws around sex work are various and confusing. Helpfully, Release have put together a detailed booklet ‘Sex Workers and the Law’. This includes a full breakdown of the criminal offences related to sex working and the buying of sexual services; offences specific to premises used for sex working; the law around anti-social behaviour orders; dealing with the police and the criminal justice system more generally; criminal records; trafficking offences; advice on tax and the rules around non-British sex workers.
Additionally, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) have put together a ‘Know Your Rights’ guide written by sex workers and legal professionals briefly and accessibly explaining sex work laws. The ECP guide is shorter but will still help you to know the law, learn how to protect yourself from arrest, defend yourself if charged, and find out where to get further help.
For international students concerned about visas and deportation, the ECP also have a free ‘Know Your Rights Against Deportation’ guide for sex workers. Please be advised that if you are on the Student Visa and are found sex working you may be contravening employment rights and be subject to legal action. Please see pages 10 & 11 of the ‘Toolkit for Student Sex Workers’ for further information.
Both ECP guides are available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese Mandarin, Greek, Italian, Romanian, Spanish and Thai here.
CAMBRIDGE SU ADVICE AND WELFARE SERVICE
The Student Advice Service is a free student support service provided by Cambridge Students’ Union. This means they are independent of the University and colleges. The service treats all students, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, race or disability, with respect; they are a confidential, non-judgemental, non-directive and inclusive service. As a team of professional and friendly Advisors, they provide a listening ear in a safe and confidential space where you can share your experiences without judgment. They can help you explore reporting options and identify support available from your College, University and external. Ultimately they are happy to tailor the support they offer to your needs and to the extent you feel comfortable.
This service is also available to students who are taking time out of their studies, you are able to continue accessing the service during a period of intermission.
To book an appointment to speak with an Advisor please follow this link where you can fill in the appointment request form or submit an enquiry.
We’re also aware that 55% of students sex workers are disabled students. If you are a disabled student sex worker you can also receive support from the University’s Accessibility and Disability Resource Centre.
UNIVERSITY STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
CN: mentions sexual violence
The Harassment and Violence Support Service provides emotional and practical support to anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed, recently or in the past. They can support you whether this happened at university or not, and can help you to access other available support services. The SHVSS can support you to explore your options for reporting what has happened and can support you through any reporting process if you do choose to go ahead. This service is not counselling or therapy, but can offer you focused, short-term, emotional support to look at managing the impact of what has happened. You do not have to report your experience to access support from the SHVSS.
The University’s Counseling Service provides individual and group counselling for students on a range of matters. They will only use or pass on your information with your express consent unless required by law or where there are serious concerns about your safeguarding or wellbeing. If your information is to be shared, they will contact you to inform you of what will be shared, with whom and the reason for doing so.
The SU offers students a variety of different condoms, dental dams and lube. These are freely available and can be found in the SU lounge on Mill Lane.
Alternatively, you can register for the C-Card scheme which exists for 16-24-year-olds to access free condoms, femidoms, lube, dental dams and chlamydia testing kits. This service is free and confidential with several pick-up points throughout the city and the option to get sexual health products delivered to your home too.
Additionally, there is a free sexual health clinic on Mill Road. They offer free, routine sexual health screening kits which can be discreetly delivered to your address in plain packaging. They can also provide emergency contraception, HIV testing, PrEP and further support plus advice.
The Toolkit for Student Sex Workers provides useful and proficient safety tips for sex workers who work online and in person, self-employed and through agencies. Their advice, informed by former student sex workers, can be found on pages 5-10 in their booklet.
The Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) put together a 34-page PDF guide for sex workers on digital security, setting boundaries with clients, legal definitions of different kinds of stalking/harassment and where you can turn for help. To request a copy you will need to email email@example.com.
Student sex workers might also wish to join a union. The United Sex Workers Union has a UK branch which works with strippers, hostesses and sex workers across the UK to improve conditions in clubs through collective negotiation and individual casework. They organize to establish ‘worker’ status, which will enable those working in clubs to claim basic rights at work, such as annual leave, sick pay, a guaranteed basic wage and the right to organize and be represented by a trade union.
Support for Student Sex Workers: A community of former and current sex workers which offers support to individuals involved in all aspects of the sex industry. They offer a confidential service which operates online, over the phone and in person with experienced mental health professionals and sex worker advocates.
National Ugly Mugs: Sign up to NUM for free to report incidents and receive warnings about dangerous individuals. If you report to National Ugly Mugs they will use the information to warn other sex workers and potentially save their lives.
Pineapple Support Society: Pineapple Support provides 24/7 online, emotional support as well as free and subsidized professional therapy and advice to all performers and producers who have been active in the adult online industry within the past 6 months.
Revenge Porn Helpline: UK service supporting adults (aged 18+) who are experiencing intimate image abuse, also known as revenge porn. They offer non-judgemental and confidential advice plus help with reporting. You can contact them on the phone, by email, Facebook Messenger or by sending them an anonymous ‘Whisper’ report.
SAAFE (Support and advice for Escorts): A collective of independent escorts who offer a range of advice, guidance and support on all aspects of the paid sex industry. A useful resource for both new and more experienced sex workers SAAFE brings together a range of information to help cut short the learning process in a business where experience really does count.
SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement): A sex worker-led collective based in the UK that campaigns for the rights and safety of all sex workers.