The London Metropolitan University did a study of immigrant sex workers (a.k.a., foreign prostitutes) in the U.K. because they were curious about all the human sex trafficking we’ve been hearing about the past few years. Surprisingly, it turns out that their life is a lot more like Secret Diary of a Call Girl than anything else:
- Only 13% felt exploited and less than half of those (6%) felt forced into prostitution. Which means 87% were perfectly happy hooking.
- Of the ones that were exploited, most were in the country illegally; others didn’t know their rights, or had personal issues
- The sex workers were from every kind of background: from rich to poor, post-graduates to grade-school drop outs, and good families to dysfunctional ones
- Most of them were not prostitutes before moving to the U.K., and did not move there thinking they’d get into it
- The majority started being call girls after working in jobs that didn’t pay well and/or had bad working conditions, mainly “in the hospitality and care sectors”
- They got into the business through friends and colleagues that were in it who seemed to like it
- What they didn’t like about it: the stigma of being a whore, the hardship of leading a double life (especially with boyfriends and family), and the fact that since it’s illegal, a small number of jackasses feel it’s ok to steal from or beat them
- What they liked about it: the money, the hours, meeting interesting people, traveling, excitement, moving up in the world, better living and working conditions
- Most of them specifically pointed out that they liked their job; they were on friendly terms with clients and colleagues and their life was generally better than before
Brooke Magnanti, while getting a Ph.D. in forensic science, wrote an anonymous blog about her experiences as a call girl for 14 months in 2003. It got turned into books and a TV series, her anonymity intact the whole time. When she was finally forced to reveal herself in 2009, she had this to say:
I did have another job at one point, as a computer programmer, but I kept up with my other work because it was so much more enjoyable.
Update, 17 March 2012: As a commenter pointed out, the act of paying for sex is not illegal in the UK, but pretty much every other aspect of prostitution is, including being a pimp or madam.