PRESS RELEASE: “Students for Sale”: How the ‘sex work is real work’ slogan risks damaging our young people.

Date: October 4, 2022. For immediate use.

UK-wide campaigning group Nordic Model Now! is issuing a stark warning to students and their families as they prepare for the new academic year.

Spokeswoman Anna Fisher says: “Our concern is that some young people will be lured into prostitution via creating content for porn websites or by ‘sugar dating’ which they think is safe, lucrative and even glamorous.”   

The group is holding a one-day event in London, on Saturday, October 15, 2022. ‘Students for Sale’ will see international speakers, activists and campaigners joining together in support of students.

One member of Nordic Model Now! is Emily, who found out the hard way that reality didn’t match the false promises. As an undergraduate she found herself in dire financial straits and came to think that ‘sex work’ would be a perfect solution to her difficulties. But it didn’t work out like that.

She says: “I was sold a complete lie. It’s not easy money. To the buyer, you are nothing more than an object for their consumption, not an actual human being with emotions. You are expected to just put up with whatever they want to do and say to you.

“The exchange of money makes them feel entitled to treat you however they like, with no regard for your feelings or consent. Not only that, but the buyers know very well how to push the price down as low as possible – they know that you’re vulnerable and you need the cash and they have no problem using that to their advantage.”

She now believes that young people should be given better information and warned about the dangers.

The campaigning group has produced a popular Handbook for Universities which sets out a realistic approach to university policy on the ‘sex industry’ and how best to support students who have become victims of it. This came in response to the University of Leicester launching a ‘student sex workers’ toolkit’, which has now been withdrawn.

Anna Fisher of Nordic Model Now! says: “Young people want to know the realities of prostitution. They do have some understanding of the dangers, but they live in a society where the mainstreaming of porn has eroticised domination and cruelty.

“It suits pimps and profiteers to normalise this, with their ‘sex work is work’ slogan. But this event will hear from women who have lived experience of the ‘sex trade’, and will talk about its reality – once all the euphemisms and propaganda have been stripped away.

“We offer honesty – and we trust young people to make up their own minds.

“And to universities we say: you should be doing everything possible to make sure that no-one gets into such hopeless situations. We want to see much more help with accessing university and college hardship funds.”

The event will hear from survivors of prostitution and trafficking, and other experts who work with victims, as well as education professionals who work with young men.

Campaigners say they have some serious questions for national and local politicians, for university staff – and for parents:

  • What does it mean when universities normalise the sex industry?
  • What does it mean when academics insist to their students that “sex work is real work”?
  • What does this mean now that universities are being financialised and students seen first and foremost as opportunities for the expansion of profit?
  • What happens in practice when the sex industry is promoted as a viable option for financially marginalised students and young people?
  • Who benefits? And who pays the price?
  • What does it mean for the (mostly) young women who get drawn into the sex industry?
  • What does it mean for the culture when our most intimate relationships are reduced to market transactions?
  • What does it mean when (mostly) men are able to buy someone’s flattery and sexual subordination and obedience?

Anna Fisher again: “We will keep on asking these questions – and we know this makes some people uncomfortable. So be it. The future of young people is too precious to be sacrificed for the profit of a pimp.”


Notes for editors:

1. Event details: Students for sale: Tools for resistance

2. Media contact: Lynne Walsh – 07973 223414

Some speakers are available for interview before the event. Journalists [including student journalists] wishing to attend the event should email Lynne to apply for press passes.

3. Nordic Model Now! was formed in 2016, and is a secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group based in the UK, campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices (such as lap-dancing, pornography and surrogacy).

4. See  for facts, myth-busting, prostitution survivors’ testimonies, blogs, podcasts and other resources. PLEASE CREDIT THE WEBSITE.

5. Event venue: Conway Hall

6. There will be time for questions during the event, but you can email in advance any questions you would like the panel to consider. Please put ‘Event Question’ in the subject line, to [Time constraints mean we will be limited in how many questions we can address.]

7. Important note for those attending: This event is open to both men and women, and will include women talking about some of the worst forms of male violence. We ask everyone, but particularly men, to be mindful of this and how both speakers and members of the audience may find this triggering because it resonates with their own experiences of male violence. We ask everyone to be open and respectful.

8. Ticket prices: Nordic Model Now! are keeping ticket prices very low [Standard tickets £5, solidarity tickets £10, concessionary tickets £3] and will aim to make some free.

9. The story behind the University of Leicester’s student sexwork toolkit and training:

10. List of Speakers

Chelsea Geddes: Chelsea is a prostitution survivor with 20 years’ experience in the fully decriminalised sex trade in New Zealand. She managed to escape after a prolonged struggle about a year ago. She is a passionate writer and long-time activist against the sex trade.

Cajsa: After escaping an abusive relationship as a teenager, Cajsa started to abuse drugs and turned to prostitution to finance her habit. She has now been clean for four years and fights for women’s rights and is a member of #intedinhora, an organisation of people who have experienced prostitution in Sweden.

Tsitsi Matekaire: Tsitsi is the Global Lead, End Sexual Exploitation at Equality Now. She is a legal expert on women’s rights, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, access to justice, women’s political participation and violence against women and girls. She came to the UK from Zimbabwe as a Chevening Scholar.

Fiona Broadfoot: Fiona was groomed into prostitution by her ‘boyfriend’ when she was 15 and only managed to escape when she was 26, after hearing that her cousin, who had also been exploited in prostitution, had been murdered by a punter. Since then, Fiona has been a passionate activist against the sex trade and is the founder of Build a Girl, a social enterprise working with girls at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation.

Robert Jensen: Robert Jensen is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of many books, including ‘Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity’.

Kathleen Richardson: Kathleen is Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University, and the founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, which warns of the dangers of normalising relationships with machines and reinforcing female dehumanisation.

Lulu: Lulu is a care-experienced adoptee in her mid-twenties. She is critical of the liberal feminist culture that she has grown up in and is particularly concerned about this culture’s impact upon some of the most marginalised young women and girls in our society.

Gemma Kelly: Gemma has worked in policy and advocacy with a focus on gender equality, human trafficking and child rights for many years, across a range of organisations from local frontline services to the international development, humanitarian and peace building sectors.

Michael Conroy: Michael is the founder of Men At Work. After working in Secondary education for 16 years, he now trains educators and youth workers in facilitating constructive dialogues with male students on themes around sexism, misogyny, objectification, risk-taking behaviours, peer pressure and personal autonomy.

Shabbana Kiyani: Shabbana has been involved in the campaign against the sex trade for several years. She has worked in education for 28 years in a number of roles from classroom to leadership. Shabbana will chair the event.

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