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Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry
The project aimed at improving the understanding of the links between the sex industry and migration in the UK. This is predominantly addressed in current public debates in terms of trafficking and exploitation.
Interviews with 100 migrant women, men and transgender people working in all of the main jobs available within the sex industry, and from the most relevant areas of origin (South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia), suggest that although some migrants are subject to coercion and exploitation, a majority are not. The research shows a great variety of experiences and trajectories within the sex industry, which were influenced by key factors such as:
- social-economic background
- family history
- educational aspirations and achievements
- immigration status and policy
- professional and language skills
- gender and sexuality
- individual emotional history.
The research findings show that the current emphasis on concepts such as trafficking and exploitation to explain the variety of the trajectories of migrants into the UK sex industry risks concealing their individual and shared vulnerabilities and strengths, the understanding of which could form the basis of more effective social interventions.