Police in the northern English city of Hull have shared a shocking example of the desperation of UK sex workers. One woman was back on the streets selling sex just 30 minutes after giving birth.
Jacqui Fairbanks, a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), has been helping the sex workers in Hessle Road for a decade. Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, she spoke out about the struggles and the stigma the women have to endure.
Some of these women have come from backgrounds of child abuse, both physical and sexual,” Fairbanks told the paper. “Violence in their lives has been commonplace and many are homeless who just sofa surf.
“Quite a number suffer from mental health problems and there are issues of trafficking and coercion by pimps and boyfriends,” she said.
“The biggest issue is drugs and many of these women are on the streets to pay for theirs and their partner’s next fix.
“One woman had a baby and, within half an hour, was back out on the streets. That’s how desperate some of these women are.”
Some women would rather not be helped as they enjoy the attention they get from punters, she added.
“Our problem is that these women will not come and deal with us. Their self-esteem is so low that they enjoy the attention they receive and that is really sad.
“They are in a cycle they simply cannot get out of,” the community support officer added.
There are currently around 40 sex workers in Hull, most of whom are in their 20s or 30s, although there are some in their 60s, Fairbanks claimed. Thankfully, no children are known to be engaged in the practice, she added.
The ages and backgrounds of those paying for sex vary widely, ranging from salesmen to unemployed individuals.
Fairbanks said her unit works closely with social services, including the Together Women Project, Lighthouse, the Vineyard and Humbercare.
Challenging the claim that all sex workers rely on welfare payments, she said the profession is often their “only source of income.”
“This isn’t Pretty Woman I’m afraid. Some rich punter isn’t going to come along and sweep these women off their feet and live happily ever after.”
Selling and buying sex is lawful in the UK, although all related activities, such as brothel-keeping, kerb-crawling and soliciting sex in a public space are outlawed.