Snapshot of UEA’s Study of Norfolk Sex Workers’ Support Needs
06 July 2015
Though it may be the world’s (so-called) oldest profession, sex work has changed a lot in recent years. Technology, financial pressure and modern life have affected everything from the reasons that women end up in the sex industry to the way they find clients and seek support.
To try to ensure that the relevant organisations are meeting the needs of today’s sex workers, the University of East Anglia has undertaken a study into the support needs of sex workers across Norfolk. The results of the study could help groups like Doorway Women’s Services to offer the right support where it’s needed the most and give sex workers the confidence that they’re being listened to and help is out there.
Sex work is becoming less visible
Though some sex workers in Norfolk still operate on the street, in general, women working in the industry are becoming less visible.
This is largely down to technology, as apps, social media, emails and smartphones allow sex workers to meet new clients and arrange meetings with existing clients away from street corners.
As many sex workers move away from the streets, the way that support groups and organisations reach them also has to change. Approaching women directly while they’re working is no longer an option, instead groups need to bring more technology into their operations and meet sex workers on their own terms.
Already we’re seeing a lot of support organisations update their working practices to meet this changing need, creating apps and websites that sex workers can access wherever and whenever they need to.
Sex workers want help to be discreet
The study also found that sex workers want the help and support they receive to be discreet.
In many cases, women involved in the sex industry keep their job a secret from friends and family. When they do seek help and support, they want to know that their loved ones won’t find out about their work and that they can access support without arousing suspicion.
Sex workers don’t want to involve the police
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that many sex workers are still very mistrustful of the police and most don’t want the authorities involved, even when crimes are committed against them.
To solve this problem, the study suggested that all crimes against sex worker be treated as hate crimes, making the victims more likely to seek help and less likely to feel like they’ve done something wrong.
Here at Doorway we’re always looking for better ways to help and support sex workers. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today on 0808 800 1030.