Great Britain: vulnerable women pay their rent in “kind”

Great Britain: vulnerable women pay their rent in “kind”

Almost 1 in 50 women in England have accepted ‘sex for hire’ offers in the last 5 years

Half high rents, half increasingly tough economic conditions are the perfect combination for many UK landlords to force financially vulnerable tenants to pay for their accommodation in kind, i.e. offering sex.

Sex for rent – ​​when landlords demand sex in exchange for free or reduced-price accommodation – is a growing problem as financial conditions become increasingly difficult, with abusive landlords using it as a tool abuse and control.

According to a survey by the Independent, around 30,000 women, from March 2020 to January 2021, were sexually harassed by their landlords, or demanded sex in exchange for rent. Since then, the phenomenon has taken on much more alarming proportions.

According to a survey by polling firm YouGov, carried out on behalf of Shelter, a housing charity, nearly 1 in 50 women in England have accepted ‘sex for hire’ offers in the last five years.

Additional salary

UK charities warn rising costs combined with their chronic underfunding means women, including those with mental health issues, must turn to sex in exchange for housing or other basic needs .

According to charity Beyond the Streets, quoted by the Guardian in a related report, the cost of living crisis is pushing those who are already vulnerable to turn to survival sex to cover the cost of bills and rent, which leading to increased exploitation and abuse.

The charity’s support team worker said she spoke to women who are trapped, working as escorts or selling sex to “top up” low wages to get by.

“The cost of living crisis is a factor [του σεξ επιβίωσης] and for those who are already vulnerable, they face significant exploitation. There is a lack of government funding to meet the needs of women and charities are struggling to cope with declining income, rising costs and growing demand for their services,” said one. spokesperson for the charity.

“desperate need”

Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) has witnessed several cases of “sex for hire” in recent months involving female asylum seekers. In one case, a woman had been sleeping “here and there” for several months when she met a man who promised to put her up before sexually assaulting her while she slept.

It is also noted that the crisis is also making it difficult for those trying to leave abusive relationships. Belén Ruiz, coordinator of the association’s counseling center on violence against women and girls, said: “It is unacceptable that women in such vulnerable circumstances are so often exposed to harassment and harassment. bullied, doubly victimized and unable to seek redress”.

Some cases, he added, involved harassment and abuse of asylum seekers while in public accommodation facilities. “This makes them fearful of accessing these services, making them easy prey for abusers living in private accommodation.”

Tilly Smith, from campaign group Generation Rent, said sex for pay was “clearly still going on”. “As we look at a particularly grim economic situation, the risk grows and grows.”

Women’s Aid said those who came into contact with the organization were in “desperate need” and the rising cost of living was making it even harder for people to leave abusive relationships.

Lucy Hadley, head of policy for the charity, said: “In the difficult economic environment we currently find ourselves in, we know that women experience increased and compounded levels of control and financial exploitation from the part of the authors.”

Government measures

Last week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced she was considering a new law targeting landlords who exploit vulnerable people for sexual purposes and issued an appeal for evidence. This follows the announcement last month of a trial of lump sum payments to help victims of domestic violence leave abusive relationships.

The Home Secretary today announced a review of new sex for pay legislation by publishing an open call for evidence to establish the extent of sex for pay in the UK and whether existing legislation protects victims.

The government is seeking input from victims, police and charities in a call for evidence starting today (April 21) to better understand the scale and nature of the despicable swap of “sex for hire” in the UK.

THE “sex for rent” is an arrangement where landlords exchange free or discounted accommodation in exchange for sex with their tenants. This is already illegal under the Sexual Offenses Act and landlords can already be prosecuted for attempted sex in exchange for rent.

“It is totally unacceptable that vulnerable people, and especially young women, are exploited in sex-for-hire arrangements.” It is an abuse of power that puts people in dire straits and has no place in our country,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman said.

money is short

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Exploitation through ‘sex for pay’ is already illegal under the Sexual Offenses Act. The government recently issued a public call for evidence that brings us closer to ending this deeply harmful trend and better protecting victims.

“We are committed to ending all forms of violence and intimidation against women and girls, including domestic violence. While we directly fund charities to help victims leave abusive relationships, we will also be investing over £230m more broadly as part of our domestic violence plan.

But while Hadley said the fund was a ‘good first step’, the £300,000 fund fell short of the £million they had requested and the sex-for-pay action did not tackle the causes root of the problem, what she said. was homelessness. poverty and inequality.

Sources: The Guardian, ERT

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