Trainee doctors have raised the issue with the British Medical Association and claim some students lack financial alternatives
Medical students are pushing to be allowed to do sex work to fund their studies.
Trainee doctors have urged the British Medical Association (BMA) to work with universities to “recognise” and “support” students working in the sex industry.
The trade union’s student wing has put forward a motion which is due to be debated at the BMA’s annual conference next month which says that the pandemic has “forced student sex workers into more risky situations”.
They are calling on the body to “lobby the General Medical Council and Medical Schools Council to ensure medical students engaging with sex work, of whatever form, to support their studies are not penalised for this and are safe from expulsion and professional proceedings”.
University students now pay £9,250 a year in tuition fees, with living costs to pay on top of that. While most undergraduate degrees are three years, medical schools require a minimum of five years’ training.
A report published in 2015 said that students working as prostitutes and pole dancers should not be prevented by their universities unless their welfare is at risk or they start missing lectures.
The authors of a study which suggested that one in 20 students was involved in the sex industry have called on universities to accept the practice and offer support rather than stigma.
Professor Tracey Sagar and fellow Swansea University academic Debbie Jones said that students selling sex was “not going anywhere” and claimed it was outdated to automatically assume prostitutes and other sex workers are victims.
Their report, The Student Sex Work Project, indicated that 5 per cent of students, more than 100,000, are engaged in the sex industry, principally to fund their higher education or a better lifestyle at university, while 22 percent had considered providing sexual services for money.
The survey of 6,750 students also found that more male than female students were making money in sex-related occupations. [J4MB emphasis]
‘We have experienced an increase in the number of students considering prostitution’
The English Collective of Prostitutes said they had seen the number of students contacting them for support rise by a third in the last 12 months.
Laura Watson of the English Collective of Prostitutes told the Mail on Sunday: “We have experienced an increase in the number of students considering prostitution.
“This is undoubtedly related to the costs of medical school, but also speaks to the scarcity of part-time jobs that students might, in the past, have used to supplement their income.
“Student sex workers should be supported and helped with financial alternatives, not penalised or kicked off their course.”
In 2018, Brighton University was accused of encouraging prostitution after a sex workers’ support group ran a stall offering help for students at its freshers’ fairs.
The Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex attended the university’s events in the city and at its campus in Eastbourne.
The organisation is part of the Brighton Oasis Project charity and describes itself as a “discreet and confidential” service for women in the sex industry who live or work in Sussex.
A spokesman for Universities UK said that their institutions encouraged “legal, healthy and safe behaviours and support students to make the right choices”. The BMA said it does not discuss motions before they are debated.
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