25 July 2014
Prostitution is more common than many of us might realise and unfortunately, many of the young people and women involved are there involuntarily. Many of those who are working in the sex trade are involved before they can legally consent to sex, and they have been coerced or manipulated into a position which they find difficult to escape.
But how do these young people get into this position in the first place? Often it’s a case of manipulation and abuse of trust. In some instances a false job opportunity or a chance for a better life in another country might be offered by someone who seems trustworthy. When they arrive they find themselves owing this person, and they are forced into illegitimate work in order to pay off the debts.
It isn’t only just those who have moved to another country who might be affected. Someone might appear to be offering you a legitimate job, they might have worked hard to gain your trust, and they might even have a relationship with you. They pay you a lot of attention and offer affection and then they can coerce, threaten, and abuse you until you do exactly what they want.
Young people who are already in vulnerable positions, such as those in poverty, in a difficult home situation, or who have been abused in the past might be more susceptible to this particular type of abuse.
The facts, myths, and figures
When it comes to prostitution there’s no training, no preparation, and no tests. You’re thrown right into sex work, and you can rapidly become more involved than you expected. Once you’re in, it can be difficult to find your way out, but there are people who want to help you.
While it might be more common in girls who are vulnerable, not all prostitutes are drug addicts, they haven’t all been abused as children, and they weren’t all coerced into it. But some were. 75% of women involved in prostitution were drawn into it as children; 70% spent time in care; 45% report sexual abuse and 85% have experienced physical abuse.
According to evidence submitted to the UK Government between 50-75% of women entered prostitution before they were 18, with 15 years being the average age of entry. Most teenage prostitutes are involved in street prostitution, which is estimated to be ten times more dangerous than working from houses or flats.
It is estimated that up to 5000 children may be involved in prostitution in the UK at any one time, and that this problem is on the rise.
More than half of women in the UK who are involved in prostitution have been raped or sexually assaulted. At least three quarters have been physically assaulted. You’re in a particularly vulnerable position, and it’s really hard to protect people who are working under the legal radar. That doesn’t mean that if you’ve been raped or assaulted that you should just accept that though; you are at risk and just because you’re involved in the sex industry does not mean you’re not entitled to report rape to the police – they will still take you seriously.
68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to the same degree as torture victims and combat veterans.
The mortality rate for women in prostitution in London is 12 times the national average. That said, people are much less likely to be convicted of murdering a prostitute than of any other murder. The conviction rate of 75% for murder drops to 26% when it comes to killings of women in prostitution.
9 out of 10 women would like to exit prostitution and there is a way out. Use the Rose Campaign‘s free and confidential support line (0808 800 1037), or our live chat facility (click the box in the bottom right hand corner of the screen) if you need someone to listen. Make sure you also know the signs of grooming , so you can help to keep yourself safe from getting into this position in the first place.