By Parsa Tejareh 

Just for a shelter

May 8, 2023 - 21:2
"Vulnerable UK women forced into ‘sex for rent’ by cost-of-living crisis"

TEHRAN- Research by Shelter found that 59,000 women were targeted by current or prospective landlords between March 2020 and last September.

Commercial sex workers seem to have directly resulted from the enslavement of women and the formation of social classes. 

Military conquests in the third millennium BC led to slavery and the abusive of captive women. Later, slavery was organized and slave owners rented out slave women as prostitutes.

Some of these slave owners also opened brothels that were ruled by the same slaves.

Experts consider the roots of modern prostitution in historical-social atrocities.

Gerda Hedwig Lerner, the Austrian-born American historian and women's history author, considers the exploitation of women and the treatment of non-slave women as sexual property that can be exchanged inside and outside of marriage, and instead of "commercial prostitution" he considers "slavery and the formation of social classes".

Although it seems that sexual slavery should be reserved for poor and developing countries and the third world, this ugly and sinister phenomenon has developed tragically in the heart of capitalist countries.

The United Kingdom is one of the countries where women suffer from sexual slavery and do this for their livelihood.

In Great Britain, the act of engaging in sex as part of an exchange of various sexual services for money is legal.

Although the laws around prostitution in England and Wales are far from straightforward, the act of prostitution is not in itself illegal, only a string of laws criminalizes activities around it.

Laws that today do not have much effect on the lives of hungry women in the country, and they do everything for their survival.

If more than one person (the law is gender neutral) is available in premises for paid sex, then that is a brothel. However, if one woman works alone, she is not keeping a brothel.

Women, in the UK, are increasingly being forced to engage in "survival sex" because of the cost-of-living crisis amid worsening conditions for Britain's most vulnerable, and this issue has made the context of the family meaningless, Guardian wrote in a report.

These days, a child can easily see the sexual slavery of a mother who is forced into prostitution to meet living expenses and the bills.

Charities warn that rising costs paired with years of underfunding mean women, including those with trauma and mental health issues, are having to turn to sex in exchange for housing or to meet other basic needs.

Sex for rent

Sex for rent – when landlords demand sex in return for discounted or free accommodation – is a growing problem as economic conditions tighten, they said, with perpetrators using it as a tool to abuse and control.

It is particularly an issue among migrant women and asylum seekers, the Observer says. The crisis is also making it harder for those trying to leave abusive relationships.

The Beyond the Streets charity said the cost-of-living crisis is driving those who are already vulnerable to turn to survival sex to meet the cost of bills and rent, leading to increased exploitation and abuse.

A support worker for the charity said she had spoken to women who are trapped in escorting or selling sex and several who are having to “top up” low-wage jobs with sex in order to make ends meet.

 “The cost-of-living crisis is a driver [of survival sex], and for those already vulnerable, they face considerable exploitation. There is a lack of government funding to support the needs of women, and charities are struggling as their incomes reduce, expenses increase and they are faced with more demands on their services," Guardian cites a spokesperson for the charity as saying.

Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) has seen multiple cases of “sex for rent” in recent months involving female asylum seekers. In one of the cases, a woman had been sofa-surfing for several months when she met a man who promised to provide her with accommodation before going on to sexually abuse her while she was sleeping.

Belén Ruiz, the charity’s violence against women and girls advice center coordinator, said: “It is unacceptable that women in such vulnerable circumstances are exposed so frequently to harassment and intimidation, being doubly victimized and unable to seek redress.”

Some cases, she added, involved the harassment and abuse of asylum seekers while in public law accommodation facilities. “This makes them afraid of accessing these services, which makes them easy prey for abusers living in private accommodation.”

Tilly Smith, of the Generation Rent campaign group, said sex for rent is “clearly going on”. “As we’re looking at a particularly bleak economic situation, danger grows and grows.”

Women’s Aid said those contacting the organization were in “dire and desperate need” and that rising living costs were making it even harder for people to leave abusive relationships.

Lucy Hadley, the charity’s head of policy, said: “In the difficult economic context that we’re in at the moment, we know that women are experiencing increased and exacerbated levels of controlling and financial abuse from perpetrators.”

Last week the home secretary, Suella Braverman, announced that she was considering a new law targeting landlords who exploit vulnerable people for sex, and launched a call for evidence. It came after the announcement last month of a trial of one-off payments to help domestic abuse victims leave abusive relationships.

While Hadley said the fund was a “good first step”, the £300,000 fund fell short of the £1m they had requested, and the action on sex for rent was not tackling the root causes of the problem, which she said were homelessness, poverty and inequality.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Exploitation through ‘sex for rent’ is already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act. The government recently launched a public call for evidence which brings us closer to ending this deeply harmful trend and better protecting victims.

“We are committed to stopping all forms of violence and intimidation against women and girls, including domestic abuse. While we directly fund charities to help victims leave abusive relationships, we also will invest over £230m more widely through our Tackling Domestic Abuse plan.”

Sexual slavery among members of Royal family 

Sexual slavery in Britain is not limited to ordinary citizens of this country. We have seen this phenomenon in the royal family as well, and Prince Andrew's case is actually the tip of the iceberg of moral corruption in the British royal family in enslaving women. 

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. In 2019, he was forced to step back from his royal duties due to backlash over his friendship with Epstein and allegations of sexual misconduct.

"Selling sex is highly dangerous. Treating it like a regular job only makes it worse," the Guardian and Observer columnist Sonia Sodha says, adding, "A looser legal regime would increase prostitution and endanger more women."

Today, cost of living for a woman on the island has become a big challenge.

What the public opinion of the world imagines about the British woman is the image of a fashionable queen with a collection clothes and a crown of diamonds on her head, but the truth is that in today's island, women are different. It may be hard to understand, they are forced into prostitution and that stereotype image is only in the minds of the nations and the reality is something else.  

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