Off-street prostitution has become an informally regulated profession and hundreds of UK sex workers have become fully paid-up members of trade unions, according to an academic study.
The study, Sex Work, a Risky Business, by Teela Sanders of the University of Leeds, said there was “possibly a shift taking place from the old order of prostitution to a new economy of sex work divided between those who are loosely connected to the sex industry and entrepreneurs who operate independent businesses”.
One association of prostitutes has even joined the GMB union, which has helped it to negotiate a code of practice between erotic dancers and sex club owners. And in Manchester, prostitutes have founded the country’s first ‘sauna owners forum’ dedicated to improving the working environment for sex workers.
The study suggests that the police are responding to the new professional brothels by turning a blind eye to indoor sex working. Many officers are reluctant to close down brothels even after complaints from neighbours.
The report is being considered by the government as part of its current review of prostitution laws.