Durham University offers ‘sex work’ safety training courses for students via Zoom

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Durham University has been accused of “failing to protect students” and “legitimizing a dangerous industry” by providing training for students to help them stay safe while prostituting themselves.

The Russell Group University insists it is simply trying to teach its students to make informed choices after receiving requests from a small number of concerned students for several years, noting that engagement in sex work, which includes online activities, is a hallmark of the HE sector in the UK.

A full session, announced by the university’s student union, held last night via Zoom was billed as “an interactive course that explores the challenges that students and sex workers may face.”

It comes after a survey of 3,200 students last year claimed that 4% of UK students – almost one in 20 – used sex work to finance their classes, while one in ten say he would do it in an emergency.

This was double the number in 2017, according to the Save The Student website.

Russell Group University insists it is just trying to teach its students to make informed choices, as they have noticed an ’emerging trend’ of selling sexual favors (file photo)

With a total student body of 2.38 million, that could mean that more than 95,000 students across Britain are currently engaged in sex work.

Among female sex workers, 28% said they had slept with someone or escorted someone, while 71% had uploaded intimate photos, filmed on the web, or sold pictures of themselves on subscription sites. sharing clips such as OnlyFans.

A Durham University student said The temperature: ‘This could be a real problem, integrate it into university culture and make sex work a normalized activity …

“Everyone I’ve spoken to is pretty disgusted that adult sex worker training courses are being promoted by our own student union…

“This suggests that being an adult sex worker is another ordinary activity and is considered an official DSU position.”

And the university has received many complaints about the courses.

A full session, announced by the university's student union, held last night via Zoom was billed as

A full session, announced by the university’s student union, held last night via Zoom was billed as “an interactive course that explores the challenges that students and sex workers may face”

The Minister of Higher and Further Education, Michelle Donelan, accused the university of “legitimizing a dangerous industry” and of failing in its duty to protect students.

And Durham isn’t the only prestigious university to have shown its support for sex workers in recent times.

Last month, the University of Leicester told students that charging people to watch them undress and provide services to sugar daddies was legal and highlighted the only three illegal activities – including street solicitation or running a brothel.

Ministers fear that encouraging the training of sex workers will normalize the exploitation of students.

And the Education Department said universities should help students who may have gone through tough times by making every effort to prevent them from working in the sex industry.

An official 'Student Sex Work Toolkit' released by the University of Leicester for students and staff in December

An official ‘Student Sex Work Toolkit’ released by the University of Leicester for students and staff in December

Young people can make hundreds of dollars a month on sex websites relatively easily by selling pornographic images and videos of themselves.

Separate figures released last year also showed that 500,000 students are now registered with the Seeking Arrangement website and seek to be “sugar babies” – typically accepting money or gifts from wealthy, older clients in Canada. exchange of intimacy.

Last year, a member of the Cambridge Students’ Union handed out flyers at its annual conference that controversially claimed that “not all sex work is abusive.”

In June 2020, the Bristol Student Union pledged to ‘challenge the stigma attached [to] sex work ”and said he would“ pressure the university to take an explicit position of non-exclusion towards students working in the sex industry ”, as well as the distribution of files of campus information.

Goldsmiths, the University of London student union claimed in 2015 that “sex work is work”. . . the exchange of money for work, like any other work ”.

While Brighton has made it clear that it

While Brighton has made it clear that it ‘does not promote sex work as an option for students’, the student union’ student fairs’ at Sussex and Brighton universities have organized stands for the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex (Swop)

In 2014, the University of Edinburgh’s student union said it would “take a zero-tolerance stance towards fucking phobia and put fucking phobia into its safe space policy.”

Student unions at UCL, York, Manchester, Plymouth and Sheffield Hallam have all supported sex work in recent years, echoing a 2018 briefing from the National Students Union that proposed “professional student solidarity (the) s of sex “.

That same year, the student union ‘refreshment fairs’ at Sussex and Brighton universities went even further – even hosting stalls for the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex (Swop), which distributed free condoms.

While Brighton has made it clear that it “does not promote sex work as an option for students,” Professor Alison Phipps, who lectures on gender studies at the University of Sussex, thanked the charity for its “excellent work”.

Durham University has said it is acting responsibly by offering students advice on how to stay safe in sex work, after Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said that she was “deeply concerned” by this decision.

Durham University said the training was aimed at ensuring the safety of students and was brought in following requests over the years “from a small number of affected students.”

A spokesperson said: “We are absolutely not looking to encourage sex work, but we are looking to support our students.

“We don’t judge, we listen, support and provide practical help.

“We run lots of courses for students and staff on topics ranging from mental health and wellness to drug and alcohol awareness.

“The intention here is to ensure that social stigma does not prevent students who may be vulnerable or at risk from accessing the support they need and are entitled to.”

The spokesperson added: “We make no apologies for working to ensure Durham is a safe environment for all of our students and staff.

“We are extremely disappointed with the way the intentions and content of this session have been misinterpreted.”

  • An earlier version of this article, which followed a Times article, had a headline that referred to Durham University offering training courses for students on how to prostitute themselves. This has since been changed to make it clear that the university offers safety training to students who may be involved in the sex industry.


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