The Student Ambassador Programme are very excited to announce the launch of a brand new course, Sexual Exploitation of University Students, on this poignant week of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The focus of this course is on the realities of the sex industry and how students can easily become targeted and sex trafficked by corrupt individuals and criminal gangs. The impact of the current cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on university students across the UK and many are resorting to commercial sexual exploitation to make ends meet.
The content of this new course is not about judging or shaming anyone, it is only about protecting students. Ignorance plays into the hands of exploiters and students are easily taken advantage of because for many, university is their first experience of independence and responsibility. There are alarming reports of students becoming victims of modern slavery in the UK and the Student Ambassador Programme is proud to educate students on not only the different types, vulnerabilities and complexities of modern slavery, but also their own rights as students in society. It is vital that students are aware of their rights as employees, housing tenants and within their relationships to protect them from exploitation. By completing this new course, our Student Ambassadors can play a crucial role in understanding the risks, recognising the indicators in their fellow students and how they can help combat this in collaboration with their universities.
This course covers topics such as:
- OnlyFans and Sugardating
- Sex for Rent and Sex for Grades
- The Business Model of Sex Trafficking
- Current UK Law
- Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)
- Relationship Safeguards
- Revenge Porn Law and Helpline
“Sex for Rent”
Landlords offering rooms in exchange, or even demand, for sexual activity from women (and sometimes men and non-binary people) who are struggling to pay their rent has become increasingly common in the UK and is particularly high in university cities and towns where there are thousands of financially struggling students.
Adverts for these arrangements use euphemism and coded language with rooms being offered for free in return for “benefits” or keeping the landlord “company”. The below are taken from real adverts:
The first landlord to be convicted for sex for rent offenses in England and Wales was jailed in May 2022. The advert said he was looking for a “young girl 16-plus who is stuck at home and wants to get away or maybe you are homeless seeking a safe route out” and the price of the room to “cook, clean, do laundry and possibly more”. The judge said the landlord’s behaviour was a “cynical attempt to take advantage by dangling a carrot to those who had little choice”.
Sugardating = the “girlfriend experience”
Sugardating is an arrangement where a younger person (the ‘Sugar Baby’) provides companionship and almost guaranteed sexual favours to an older person (the ‘Sugar Daddy’) in return for gifts or money. The Sugar Baby must serve the “the girlfriend experience” and feign interest, affection and sexual availability over hours, days, weeks and usually months.
The most popular Sugardating website reports to have 500,000 British students as registered members and even offers free membership to all those who sign up with a student email account. One student, who was signed up to a Sugardating website for three years, explained how they felt that being a student meant that Sugar Daddies were more likely to take advantage of them: “they know that you’re hard done by and I think a lot of the time they push their luck because as students we are in a bracket of society that is less likely to say no”.
Educating and empowering student ambassadors
Since the Programme relaunch in June 2023, the network of Student Ambassadors has grown to over 250 students in over 55 universities and across all regions of the UK. We are ensuring the next generation of professionals have the knowledge and confidence to stamp out modern slavery at every level and collaboratively create a society where human trafficking and the recruitment, harbouring and exploitation of those most vulnerable is impossible to sustain.
If you are a UK university student and interested in becoming a Student Ambassador, head to our webpage and submit our Sign-Up Form today: https://itsapenalty.org/studentambassadors/
If you work for a UK university or students’ union and would like to become involved in our network of Student Ambassadors, please get in contact with the team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Liz Lowther
Student Ambassador Programme Coordinator