Prostitution and sex work: nature and prevalence in England and Wales (report)

University of Bristol, commissioned by the Home Office and the Office of the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, October 2019

The University of Bristol was commissioned by the Home Office and the Office of the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner to look in to the current ‘nature’ and ‘prevalence’ of prostitution in England and Wales, involving adults aged 18 or over. The research was carried out between May 2018 and June 2019.  We were not asked to report on policy or law.  Drawing on the literature and initial findings, we used the following definition:

Prostitution and/or sex work constitutes the provision of sexual or erotic acts or sexual intimacy in exchange for payment or other benefit or need.

Following a systematic search of the existing national and international evidence base, including a review of previous prevalence studies, we sought views, data and personal experiences through a 6-month public online survey, yielding almost 1200 often detailed responses with over 500 from those currently or formerly involved in selling sexual services.  We also worked through NGOs and support services to identify individuals unlikely to respond to online surveys. We completed follow up in-depth email interviews with 42 individuals.  We invited 155 organisations, collectives and individuals to consult on our draft finding at four regional meetings in early 2019.

Given methodological and ethical constraints, we recognise two groups whose voices are under-represented or absent within this report: (1) Migrant sex workers; (2) British and non-British individuals who are/were forcibly coerced, who are/were trafficked, who are/were sexually exploited and/or who are traumatised in relation to their experience.

In terms of ‘prevalence’, currently in England and Wales there is no source of data which allows for the production of representative population estimates for this group.  Stigma, the private and hidden nature of the sex industry, complex engagement patterns and definitions of activities mean that estimating prevalence is challenging.  Producing an accurate estimate would require studies to follow the guidance and recommendations on data collection jointly produced by the UNAIDS and World Health Organisation (WHO) (2010) and/or to use statistically representative samples.  Focused and small-scale prevalence studies are also more likely to be accurate.  The report provides guidance on such work.

In terms of ‘nature’, overall, we found that the way that sex is sold in England and Wales today is both complex and diverse.  It is common for individuals to move between settings and services, for safety or to maintain income, and to engage full-time, part-time (sometimes alongside other paid work or study), intermittently or casually.  Looking across our data, we identified and structured our commentary around the following:

Cross-cutting themes

Identifying sex work, identifying as a sex worker

·         Social identities, inequalities and routes in

·         Patterns of engagement and moving between settings/services

·         Advertising, payment and third parties

·         Risk, harm and managing safety

·         Buyers and buying

 Settings and services

·         Bar-based sex work and hostess bars

·         BDSM, kink and fetish

·         Brothels, parlours, saunas

·         Erotic and exotic dance

·         Erotic massage

·         Escort: independent

·         Escort: agency

·         Pornography, glamour, erotica

·         Sex parties

·         Street and outdoor sex work

·         Sugar arrangements

·         Telephone, text-based, TV-based, live voyeurism

·         Therapeutic services

·         Webcamming

Individuals selling sex in England and Wales today are varied in terms of demographics and motivation. At the same time, there are recurrent patterns of experience or identity that mark some individuals’ entry into the sex industry and/or the type of setting, service or the conditions in which they work.

We found that a substantial proportion of individuals (mainly women and trans women) are selling sex to get by financially, given different constraints in their lives around caring responsibilities, physical and mental health, lack of access to social security benefits and support services, workplace discrimination, or other reasons.  Their situation is compounded by stigma and managing safety, and many find that the longer they sell sex, the harder it can be to leave completely.  This moves beyond individual ‘choosing or ‘not choosing’ and recognises the structural economic and social context in which choices are narrowed: or in the case of those coerced in to selling sex, choices removed.

Hidden Forces: Shining a light on Reproductive Coercion (White Paper)

Marie Stopes Australia, 2018

Reproductive Coercion (RC) is behaviour that interferes with the autonomy of a person to make decisions about their reproductive health. Many Australians do not have full control over their reproductive choices. Their choices are constrained by people in their familial and community networks or by structural forces at play in our society.

Reproductive Coercion is gaining greater attention in Australia. Brave people are coming forward to share stories of their lived experience of Reproductive Coercion in order to build greater understanding of this important issue and how it has shaped their lives.

For twenty months, Marie Stopes Australia coordinated a public consultation process that has culminated in this White Paper on Reproductive Coercion. This White Paper has emerged following a roundtable of 50 stakeholders, two phases of public submissions, comment on a draft White Paper and targeted engagement of leading
academics, healthcare professionals and psychosocial specialists.

84 submissions that have informed the development of this White Paper. These submissions have provided a wide spectrum of views on this complex issue.

 

Medicare ineligible PLHIV in Australia

NAPWHA, May 2019

This NAPWHA report is an analysis drawing together several years’ worth of data from the main pharmaceutical industry suppliers of compassionate access antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in Australia and combines this with, for the first time, data from the State and Territory jurisdictions to produce the most accurate estimate to-date of the number of Medicare ineligible PLHIV in Australia. It comes with recommendations for systemic improvements.

Social housing landlords use domestic violence as reason to evict victims – study

Guardian Australia, Thu 13 Jun 2019 

Social housing landlords are evicting low-income domestic violence survivors because the abuse they suffer can be considered a “nuisance” breach under existing tenancy laws, a new study has found.

Researchers from two universities analysed lease terminations data, nearly 100 state tribunal and court decisions, as well as case studies from housing providers to assess the impact on the nation’s most vulnerable tenants.

 

The health and wellbeing of Australian lesbian, gay and bisexual people: a systematic assessment

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, I04 June 2019

https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12855

Abstract

Objective: This study revisits disparities in health and wellbeing by sexual identity in Australia, identifying which domains demand priority policy intervention, documenting differences between gay/lesbian vs. bisexual populations, and examining change over time in the relative health and wellbeing of sexual minorities.

Method: I fitted multivariable ordinary least squares and random‐effect panel regression models on 20 outcomes to compare the health and wellbeing of heterosexual, gay/lesbian and bisexual people, using 2012/2016 data from a national probability sample – the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey.

Results: I found strong associations between sexual minority identities and most health and wellbeing outcomes. These were comparatively larger for: role‐emotional health, mental health and general health; bisexual compared to gay/lesbian people; and minority women compared to minority men. I found no change over time in the relative health and wellbeing outcomes of gay/lesbian people, but evidence of worsening circumstances among bisexual people.

Conclusion: There are important disparities in the health and wellbeing profiles of different sexual minority populations in Australia, based on sex (male vs. female), sexual identity (gay/lesbian vs. bisexual), and observation time (2012 vs. 2016).

Implications for public health: Sexual identity remains an important marker of risk for health and wellbeing outcomes within Australia, underscoring the importance of fully integrating sexual identity in health policy and practice.

One in six Australian women experience abuse before they are 15, data shows

Damning new data about Australia’s rates of domestic and sexual violence reveal that one in six women experience abuse before they are 15 and one woman is killed by her partner every nine days.

Based on national population surveys and set against a backdrop of declines in overall violence, rates of partner violence and sexual violence have remained relatively stable since 2005, a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows.