Sex work and migration

A range of nationalities and a large proportion of migrant sex workers work in the London indoor sex industry. Outside London the proportion of migrant sex workers varies more widely but most sex workers are from the UK. It has been argued that migration may have increased numbers of sex workers but there is no evidence to support this. The proportion of migrants in the sex industry mirrors migration patterns in other service sector industries such as hospitality and food and drink, and varies according to geographical location.

Research with migrants working in the UK sex industry from South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia suggests that they come from a variety of backgrounds and that most migrate because of lack of opportunities at home, especially opportunities for education. Most are introduced to the possibility of working in the sex industry through friends and colleagues. Although some report problematic clients and employers, they generally describe relations with their employers and clients as characterized by mutual consent and respect. They report that the combination of the stigmatization of sex work and lack of legal immigration documentation makes them more vulnerable to violence and crime[86].

What do we know about sexual violence?

86. Mai, N. (2011). Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry: Final Report, http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/research-units/iset/projects/esrc-migrant-workers.cfm#report

What do we know about sexual violence?

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