Male Street Based Sex Workers In Manchester; A Hidden Population By Judith Vickers

This research was done by Judith Vickers, the operational manager of Lifeshare in Manchester – a project which supports Manchester’s finest as they try to find a place to live.  This work came out of her understandings of the hard sides of life which so many have to face and championing getting various supports in place for better health and wellbeing.  One of the main issues which she came up against was the idea that men who sell sex to men are involved through a “lifestyle choice” rather than through a poverty imperative, which meant that support services were not extended to them as individuals.


In a communication about this work she said “The difference it made was we were able to get the Male Voice onto the Sex workers strategy, we had open house droppings to support the lads, we designed our service delivery from the feedback from our clients. We were able to target our outreach to identified Male cruising grounds and active Male Beats.


We were able to focus on the Health needs of our young men and work in partnership with Urban Medical and Primary Care to provide fast track referrals into sexual Health clinics etc. The dissertation also helped with funding bids as it was a strong evidence of need. I would really like to open a non binary sex worker service as this is an identified gap in support, so any research you come across please send my way”….


To this day Judy continues to work in the Manchester area to try and deliver the support the homeless community need in order to get into situations where they are less vulnerable to the weather, prejudices and extreme poverties.


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My dissertation aims to raise the importance of increasing the understanding of Men who sell sex to Men, suggesting appropriate responses to address their needs, while responding to the legitimate concerns of the wider community about sex work. Exploring the impact of recent legislation on male street-based sex workers in relation to their vulnerability, I will draw upon both sociological and criminological theories and research in order to validate my own independent study.


In the Literature Review section of this dissertation I consider the ‘hidden history’ of male sexual exploitation and sex work. It does not represent a comprehensive review of research literature but it tries to identify, what, if anything, we do know about the differences for exploited boys and young men and where the gaps are in our knowledge. Contemporary research is overwhelmingly focused on girls and young women who are sexually exploited (e.g. Pearce et al, 2002; Cusick et al, 2003; Melrose and Barrett, 2004).


References to male exploitation are fleeting. Traditionally within academia these have been predominantly raised in one of two ways:

  • Research on HIV/AIDS prevention from the health service context with sex workers and ‘rent boys’ (e.g. Barnard et al, 1990; Barnard and McKeganey 1996).
  • Research on sexual identity and the sub-culture of the gay community (e.g. Weekes, 1989; West and de Villiers, 1992).


A key motivation to explore this area comes from my own work and placement experience, within Manchester. I worked for several years as a substance misuse worker for the under nineteens. The main focus of my role was working with female and male young people who were working in the sex industry or at risk of sexual exploitation. This was done on an outreach basis. My first placement was with Lifeshare’s Male Sex Worker Project (MSWOP) based in Manchester.


During discussions and development activities with other professionals and service users while on this placement it was evident to me, that a number of issues of concern were identified that directly affected male sex workers: for example; the overwhelming female focused Home Office consultation paper ‘Paying the Price 2004.’; which came about, as a result of the Government’s review of the current legislation surrounding prostitution in the UK.


In researching ‘Paying the Price ‘(2004),’ which had acted as a consultation document, and led to a national response about how legislation should address sex work. I was surprised to find that there was, in my opinion little information or discussion about other sectors of sex work. Its largely female focus did not reflect the true diversity of the Sex Industry or the diversity of Sex Worker’s experience within it.


In January 2006, the Home Office published ‘A Coordinated Prostitution Strategy’ which was a summary of responses to Paying the Price. Within this document, the Home Office put forward suggestions as to how they were going to tackle issues surrounding ‘prostitution’ and its regulation holistically. It aims to prevent people being drawn into prostitution, reduce demand for street prostitution, develop routes out, and ensure justice for perpetrators and tackle off-street prostitution, particularly where victims have been trafficked. It was the first review of prostitution since the Wolfenden report in 1957 (English Collective of Prostitutes, 2004).


Paying the Price, was initially published as a response to the Sexual Offences Act in 2003, which effectively ‘gender neutralises’ offences previously governed by the Street Offences Act 1959 and the Sexual Offences Act 1985 (Home Office, 2004). The Government sought the views of interested organisations; for example, the UK Net work of Sex Workers (UKNWSW) helped to develop a coherent coordinated strategy to tackle prostitution, especially street-based activity.


However, my research indicated that there was little service user involvement at a strategy level in guiding reform. The paper suggests that street-based prostitution is more problematic than off-street prostitution, certainly in terms of drug misuse and public nuisance. However, the selective deregulation of indoor work, combined with a zero-tolerance approach to street sex work lacks any clear details, making it unclear whether the reforms will simply re-state current police practice (in which discretion is routinely applied to avoid prosecution) or whether a new regulatory system with positive rights will ensue.


It is my understanding that the government and police, are at present evaluating models of governance and control of prostitution from various countries and continents. (Kantola & Squires, 2004)


However, there is a vagueness or gap within the policy framework, that could perhaps stem from contested views or idea that any concession to a rights-based framework. For example, the Netherlands Model of regulation and control is at odds with the overriding picture of prostitution as ‘exploitation’ and a victim centred crime; a definition that is pivotal to the forms of governance that the Home Office seeks to promote through the politics of prostitution control, ‘anti-social’ behaviour and crime reduction strategies. (Paying the Price, 2006, Crime and Disorder Act 1998).


The tension between deregulation and rights-based work and the view that street work is ‘anti-social’ raises several issues. For instance, if kerb-crawling, loitering or soliciting were decriminalised, there would need to be a balance between protecting the rights of sex workers, to work in safety and also, addressing the concerns of local residents and businesses.


However, if the purchasing of sex was criminalised through strict laws on kerb crawling then this could have the effect of pushing an already vulnerable and marginalised group further into the shadows. It can only be through understanding the recent historical context and, in particular, the relationship between governance, responsibility and the social inclusion/exclusion of vulnerable groups that critical responses to the contemporary politics of prostitution should be developed.


Research (Sanders:2005), indicates high levels of violence and robbery against street sex workers and exploited young boys, perpetuated by clients, passers-by, ’pimps’ or managers and, on occasions, local residents who object to the selling of sex in their neighbourhoods (McKeganey and Barnard, 1996; Phoenix, 2002; Hester and Westmarland, 2004).


Violence for street working men is a reality, often though this related to their problematic drug or alcohol use or homelessness, rather than their involvement in the selling of sex. (Connell & Hart, 2003).



Embarking on my research into male street-based sex work and sexuality I had to take into consideration and recognize that Social Work and Social Workers contribute through their theories and actions to the construction of sexuality. It is widely acknowledged that there has been until recently a lack of attention to issues of sexuality in Social Work, education, research and literature. (Trotter and Hafford-Letchfield, 2006). This apparent ‘silence’ contributes significantly to the construction of sexuality.


We live in a society that appears to use sex to sell everything from cars to toothpaste. Graphic sexual images are available at the press of a button. Ironically our society appears unable to talk openly about sex, especially sex that does not fit neatly into dominant heterosexual understanding. The methodology behind my research focuses on the obsession in this society of labelling, based on who you have sex with, which has resulted in many problems for those who do not conform.


For example; men who have sex with men for money, but do not identify themselves as gay or bi-sexual. This client group is a very diverse, ‘hard to reach’ group, in part because of the identity issue. They are seen as ‘hard to reach’ because they do not fit in with societies labels and so my research method seeks to challenge this dominant labelling system.


In researching academia to validate this hypothesis, I reflected on how the way dominant heterosexual understandings can marginalise some people. This was evident in the research ‘Out on My Own’. (Cull et al, 2006). The study found that none of the 44 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender young people questioned had received sex or relationship education at school, which was inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) experience. (Cull et al, 2006). This failure to educate and address these issues leaves many children and young people lacking the knowledge of how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.


Having sexual feelings or thoughts about other boys is a common experience for many boys and research suggests that lesbian, gay and bisexual people constitute between 5-7% of the population. (DTI, 2004).


However, without an accepting environment to talk about their feelings, young men remain at an increased risk of sexual exploitation. In this context, many boys do not feel comfortable talking about their feelings at school or home. History and practice have in the past suggested that boys and young men are at no or low risks of sexual exploitation because young women are overwhelmingly the targets of abuse and exploitation and males are the exploiters. This has made sexually exploited young men invisible. (Harper, Scott. 2005).


Through my research I will argue that it is not possible to conclude that boys are at lower risk of sexual exploitation or involvement in sex work, from such a weak knowledge base, concerning the extent and nature of sexual exploitation of male children and young people in the UK. Throughout my dissertation my approach to a range of issues about sexuality and sex work will be portrayed in a non-judgemental critical manner by adapting a social constructionist approach.


“Sexuality is perhaps the last human dimension that many of us refuse to grant as socially created, historically variable and therefore deeply political.”

(Seidman.1996, p.2).


There has certainly been a rise in the number of agencies working with sex workers in the UK since the 1980’s (see: Campbell et al 1995; Pitcher, 2006, Pitcher et al. 2006, on service provision in the UK and Alexandra, 1999: Wolffers, 1999). The initial rise in agencies was largely a response to the HIV pandemic and the belief that sex workers could be vectors of transmission between the `underclass and mainstream society’ (Mathews, 2005).


This approach has built upon the moral panic surrounding prostitution in the 1960’s and 1970’s. However, once empirical research had been completed, it was recognised that HIV levels were low in sex workers and that the virus was more prevalent in homosexual men and injecting drug users. (Sacks. 1996)


Discourse has portrayed ‘prostitution’ as impure and disease-ridden (Mathews, 2005). This portrayal does little to help remove ` Whore-Stigma’ (Pheterson 1995), which arguable; ‘forms the basis for the production of coping strategies within an individual, that may well be destructive and detrimental to that individual’s well-being.’


In re-viewing the literature surrounding the health of sex workers and the stigma associated with this behaviour, it was apparent that service users were immediately viewed as a `High Risk Group’. The 2004 Home Office publication `Paying the Price’ in my opinion instils ‘Whore Stigma’ into its policy by insinuating that sex with ‘prostitutes’ in general, posed a high risk of sexually transmitted infection, although, this was not backed up with any epidemiological knowledge surrounding sexually transmitted infections, and had hardly any empirical data to support their statements. (Home Office, 2004 and Cusick, 2005).


In fact, research contradicted the publication suggesting, that in general, sex workers have good sexual health compared to some of the general public (DH.2004). I found it difficult and complex when researching the binary distinction between free and forced prostitution that is regularly made in policy documents regarding the prosecution of parties involved in the sex industry. This also, determines whether there can be a prosecution made for exploitation suffered; in this sense it produces a big ` Grey Area’ that often results in cases involving sex work and sexual exploitation rarely reaching the Courts.


This binary distinction does not play out in reality, as there is no one ideological position that can be held about sex work. It takes on many forms and represents highly personal choices made by individuals. (Brennan, 2003, Odzer, 1994; Walker and Ehrlich, 2000).


This view of free/forced prostitution discursively reinforces the stereotype of the `innocent victim v, sexually deviant’ making it more difficult for those who choose to sell sex to access services. The binary discursive labels those who choose to sell sex as deviant, and enhances stigma attached to an already marginalised group. The binary used to label the different identities cannot be employed as simply in reality, as the term free and forced are complex and have myriad meanings.


This approach also reflects discourses of the ‘nuisance’ and ‘morality’ used to inform UK policy, in opposition to a discourse of ‘sex work’ utilised in other national policy settings such as the Netherlands (see: Kantola and Squires, 2004 and Outshoorn,2001).


In order to understand the hidden population of Male Sex Workers in Manchester I embarked on a data analysis of legislation, literature, research and strategy documents, in order to provide a comprehensive data source. I applied a Triangulation Approach to the analysis of multiple sources of data I have collected, with the hope that they will converge and support my findings and theories around the issue of Male Sex Work in Manchester. I wanted to track the invisibility of the young men in the policy and research papers and compare this with my own work-based observations.


In this sense my qualitative approach to research through informal observations while on placement and outreach in the Gay Village in Manchester as well as in-depth interviews with professionals in the field has given me a unique opportunity to validate my findings with confidence that my conclusion is warranted from the data collected.


In my research and dissertation, I have consciously used the term ‘Sex Work’ both in my interview schedule and evaluation for a number of reasons. While including notions of consumerism that conveys the context of a wider sex market (Brewis and Linstead, 2000), ‘sex work’ also describes the process of selling sex for money (O’Neil, 1997; Scambler, 1997). Importantly it is also nearer to the term ‘Rent Boy’ or Working lad’ used by the young men themselves. ‘Prostitution’, on the other hand, alludes to the idea of ‘women selling themselves’, and has connotations with the Victorian view of ‘prostitutes’ as creatures of immoral behaviour ‘preying’ on moral gentlemen (Brooks-Gordon, 2006).


However, female prostitution takes on new meaning when analyzed alongside male prostitution. Within the gay male world, prostitution is, for the most part, regarded with indifference. This is probably because many gay men have learned not only to accept but to take pride in sexual deviance (Marlowe, J.1997)


The arguments against female prostitution are familiar: prostitutes are seen as victims, with no self-esteem, prostitution degrades all women, who need to be forcefully removed from their circumstances


Prostitution is most associated with women and young girls but there is also a thriving sex market for men and young boys. So much is hidden from view that it is difficult to be precise about the scale of male prostitution. However, evidence from the Police and Social Services, and from published consumer guides to prostitution, suggest that it exists in most towns and cities. This dissertation focuses mainly on Manchester, cross referencing studies carried out in the UK and other countries and cities in order to compare and develop good working practices. It has been estimated that up to 5,000 young people (under 18) may be involved in prostitution at any one time in the UK (Swann & Balding, 2000).


The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found that 8.9% of men in London aged 16-44 acknowledged having paid for sex in the past five years. The number across Britain is lower at 4.3 %. (Taylor Browne, 2002). Reflecting on my experiences of working with young men involved, in street-level sex work and through a semi-structured qualitative analysis of research and literature, I developed my interview questions and interview direction. The interviews will be with professionals who have worked with male and female sex workers for many years. I have been very mindful of ethical issues and will discus this further in my methodology. Ethical issues have been discussed and agreed with the University.


Throughout the research process young men and professional workers typically referred to themselves as service users, ‘Rent Boys’ or ‘Working lads’ occasionally ‘Sex Workers’, but never ‘prostitutes’ and it seems appropriate to adopt the linguistic construction that respondents felt to be the least value-laden and stigmatized. The adult male calling themselves ‘boy’ or ‘lad’ in terms of their sex work identities is a complicated choice of description.


‘Working Lad’ or ‘Rent boy’ is a term that clearly implies vulnerability but, simultaneously, may be seen to represent an expression of ironic empowerment. Moreover, ‘Working lad’ or ‘Rent boy’, is not only a self- determined label, but also appears to incorporate aspects of both voluntarism and coercion. The gender neutralising of the language used to discuss the issue of prostitution could be seen as a way of obfuscating the fact that this is a gender specific area.


Theories of Sexuality

In this section I shall give a brief account of the theories of sexuality and how the labelling of people on the grounds of sexual preference only serves to exclude some individuals from mainstream society. Sexuality as a discursive and embodied practice has been at the centre of studies surrounding sex and sexuality for centuries. The dynamic, diverse and vast nature of the literature surrounding sexuality and its associated theoretical conceptualisations makes it problematic to explore as an academic and social discourse.


This review primarily concentrates on work completed in Anglo-American contexts; although studies from other contexts will be referenced. The review will initially consider the historical view of male same sex practices, moving on to address constructions of sexuality, expanding on ideas around the ‘sexual moment,’ and its relationship with sexual practice and identity, as a theoretical framework for the dissertation. The theme running though this section will reflect the notion that some spaces and times become key moments in the making of sexual pleasure, not sexual identity.


The History of Homosexuality

Gender and Race were categories of identity as early as the founding years of the American Republic. Americans defined themselves as men or women, as white or black (coloured or Negro). The same was not true of sexuality. Historians report that Heterosexuality and Homosexuality were not a basis for personal identity until the early twentieth century. In fact, Swiss doctor Karoly Maria Benkert officially coined the term ‘homosexual’ in 1869, though the word was not commonly used until a century later (Sullivan 2003).


Previously, homosexuality was viewed as behaviour. In fact, historians have documented a middle-class culture accepting of romantic involvements between women, at least as complements to heterosexual marriage (Seidam, S, 2004). However, by the first decade of this century a medical-scientific discourse announced to the public the existence of a new human identity: the homosexual. Characterized as a gender-confused, sexual deviant, the homosexual was ‘labelled’, a disreputable figure.


Construction of Sexuality

Social Constructionism essentially argues that homosexuality is: created, maintained, controlled and performed through a socially and culturally contingent process. Hence, homosexuality is therefore, a socially conditioned, diverse and dynamic process, unlike the intrinsic and genetic homosexuality suggested by biological determinists (Edwards, 1994). Social Constructionism holds what could be argued to be a theoretical hegemony in debates over sexuality in general. (Wittman, 1992:341).


The notion of ‘hiddenness’ and ‘recovery’ has been particularly important to historians of subordinated groups. ‘The past does not only belong to the victors and rulers, but also to the vanquished and overruled.’ (Batsleer.1996). Historical investigations of hidden or forgotten relationships and struggles can challenge the dominance of certain taken for granted common sense assumptions in the present. One of the most powerful aspects of hegemonic cultural patterns is their seeming ‘naturalness’ or ‘eternalness’ (Humphris, B, 1999.p.244).


Socially Constructed Sexualities

As a theory, Social Constructionism has been much popularised in different ways through scholars such as Judith Butler (1999) and Michel Foucault (1990). However, Social Construction theory can at times be problematic as many scholars in this area, presumes the body to be intrinsically `sexed’ in some way (and never asexual). Social Constructionism also implicitly presumes a relationship between sex, sexuality and desire, a relationship, which remains under-explored within academy. (Harding, 1998, see also Binnie, 2001).


As society is moving towards a post-homophobic society, that aims to be all-inclusive, I will reflect on the transition of understanding and acceptance of the expression of human sexuality. Social movements have brought radical enlightenment to a society where the differences between `hetro’ and `homo’ sexuality, no longer matter.


This picture of human sexuality is much more complex, diverse and blurred then the traditional simplistic binary image of ‘hetro’ and ‘homo’ sexuality, so loved by straight moralists and; more significantly; by many lesbian and gay men. Gay Identity and Gay Rights movement is largely the product of anti-gay repression. It is a self-defence mechanism against Homophobia. Faced with persecution for having same-sex relations, the right to have those relationships had to be defended. The westernized notion of ‘gayness’ a notion that stresses orientation over act, is challenged by the Gay Rights Movement. (


Cultural Influences

Even in societies most homophobic societies and cultures, many people are born with sexuality that is, to varying degrees, capable of both heterosexual and homosexual attraction: for same sex relationships are known to flourish in single-sex institutions like schools, prisons and armed forces.


In Patterns of Sexual Behaviour (1965) they noted that certain forms of homosexuality were considered normal and accepted. In the Research study of seventy-six tribal societies, which were studied between the period of 1920- 1950 it highlighted that, ‘out of the seventy-six tribes nearly two-thirds (46) thought that certain forms of homosexuality were normal and acceptable’. They also recorded some aboriginal culture, such as the Keraki and Sambia people of Papua New Guinea, where by all young men enter into a same-sex relationship with unmarried male warriors, as part of their rights of passage into manhood. Once completed, they ceased all homosexual contact, and assumed sexual desires for women. If sexual orientation was totally biologically pre-programmed, these men would have never been able to switch to homosexuality and then to heterosexuality with such apparent ease. (Bilton et al, 2002)


In this sense, homosexuality is fundamental to the human species, and its’ practice is substantially influenced by societies moves and expectations. The evidence from research disciplines such as, sociology and anthropology suggest that the incidence of heterosexuality and homosexuality is not fixed and universal, and that the two sexual orientations are not mutually exclusive. There is a good deal of fluidity and overlap, what’s more, although sexuality may be significantly affected by biological predispositions, such as genes and hormones. It can also be influenced by childhood experiences, social expectations, peer pressure, and moral values. These influences channel erotic impulses in certain directions and not others. An individual’s sexual orientation is thus influenced culturally, as well as biologically. (


Queer Theory

Queer Theorist’s aim to broaden gay theory into a general sexual theory. Queer Theory is a set of ideas based around the idea that identities are not fixed and do not determine who we are. It suggests that it is meaningless to talk in general about ‘women’ or any other group, as identities consist of so many elements, that to assume that people can be seen collectively on the basis of one shared characteristic is wrong. Indeed, it proposes that we deliberately challenge all notions of fixed identity, in varied and non-predictable ways. (Butler.J.1999)


It is a mistake to think that queer theory is another name for lesbian and gay studies as they are different. Queer Theory criticises lesbian and gay studies and challenges sociology and cultural theory. Queer Theory is based, in part, on the work of Judith Butler (in particular her book ` Gender Trouble’ 1990) and Annamarie Jagose (1997) ‘Queer Theory’.


Butler suggests that ‘‘subversive’ identities demonstrating the constructiveness of sex-gender-desire continuity will work to destroy its normative status, thus allowing all ‘cultural configurations of sex and gender to proliferate’ and become intelligible (i.e. not deviant)’(ibid: 190). (Butler,J. 1999). Butler presents the idea of the ability for a ‘variable’ construction of identity beyond ‘traditional’ binary constructions.


The Sexual Moment

Research done by Alfred Kinsey in the USA during the 1940’s was the first major statistical evidence that gay and straight are not watertight, irreconcilable sexual orientations. He found that sexuality is, in fact, a continuum of desires and behaviours, ranging from exclusive heterosexuality, to exclusive homosexuality. A substantial proportion of the population is somewhere in the middle, sharing an amalgam of same-sex and opposite-sex feelings.


In Sexual Behaviour in The Human Male (1948), Kinsley recorded that thirteen percent of the men he surveyed were either mostly or exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55 years. Twenty-five percent had more than incidental gay reactions or experiences, amounting to clear and continuing same-sex desires. Altogether, thirty-seven percent of the men Kinsey questioned had experienced sex with other males to the point of orgasm, and half had experienced mental attraction or erotic arousal towards other men (sometimes transient and not physically expressed). (Tatchel, P.2008).


Kinsey’s research has since been criticised as being out-of-date. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (2000) found that around nine percent of UK men and women have had a sexual experience with a person of the same sex; although the survey authors admit this is probably an underestimate because many people are still reluctant to reveal their homosexuality. (


In Australia, the response to the need to understand the diversity of human sexual practice (and also in response to the world wide HIV epidemic) through the research of Pitts and Couch (2003, 2006), it was recognised that a significant population of men who do not self-identity as “gay” or “bisexual” , sometimes have sexual contact with other men. Therefore, a descriptor for behaviour, rather than an assertion of social identity was needed and the term “men who have sex with men”, and its acronym ‘MSM’, came into being. (Pitts, J. 2003).


During the study, researchers interviewed about 150,000 men aged 16-59 years and they found that a significant number identified as gay or bisexual, while a similar number identified as heterosexual but had a history of same-sex sexual contact. This led Pitts and Couch to conclude that the clinical implications for these men included more than sexual health concerns. They developed a good practice guide for consultation with patients for doctors and professional Health Care Workers in order for them to recognise these men and better meet their needs. (


Impact of New Legislative Context on Male Sex Workers

Recently there has been a drive by the UK Government to view young people involved in sex work as victims (Paying the Price 2004, Every Child Matters, 2003) and strong powers of arrest are being brought to bear on kerb crawlers. Currently, selling sex is not criminalised in Britain, and is regarded as a private transaction conducted between two consenting adults. There are however, many pieces of legislation that seek to regulate and ‘limit certain undesirable effects of prostitution while maintaining low levels of criminalisation’ (Matthews and O’Neill, 2002, p.xvii).


Table 1.1 Outlines the main legislation currently relating specifically to street sex work in England, Wales and Scotland.




The Sexual Offences Act 2003: introduced a package of new offences designed to tackle various forms of sexual exploitation. These included:

  • Causing or inciting prostitution for gain
  • Controlling prostitution for gain
  • Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.


There are however currently no specific offences to tackle those who pay for or offer to pay for sex with someone who has been trafficked or exploited, unless there is sufficient evidence to prove that person knew the person selling sex did not consent to sexual intercourse.  In these situations, the Police and Prosecutors would pursue a prosecution for rape. (Sexual Offences Act 2003)


The Government’s intention is to look at criminalising those who pay or offer to pay for sex with victims of these crimes in order to deter the sex buyers who fuel illegal exploitative and coercive practices.


In practice, the legislative framework creates a paradoxical situation where, although sex work may not be illegal, it is impossible for males or females to sell sex without violation of a number of laws while working. For instance, street sex workers routinely commit the offence of soliciting in public or quasi-public spaces (under the terms of the 1959 Street Offences Act and 1982 Civic Government (Scotland) Act); while their clients may be arrested for kerb crawling (under the terms of the 1985 sexual Offences Act and 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act). Yet, the Police, who have favoured a form of regulation whereby sex work is spatially contained and informally tolerated as long as public complaints or political priorities do not demand a ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown, therefore, enforcement of these laws is selectively and inconsistently enforced. (Matthews, 2005).


The government wants to introduce a more punitive system of enforcing the name and shame of ‘punters’ purchasing sex and ‘punter’ education classes will be a condition of their sentence. The police are forming Multi-Disciplinarily Teams to take a Case Management approach to removing street prostitution with the intention of improving the safety and quality of life of communities affected by prostitution, including those individuals directly involved in street sex markets (Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, Sexual Offences Act 2003).


The main duty of the Police will remain law enforcement. Unfortunately, the availability of a “multi-agency response” (which may well be seen as a “multi-interference), is a postcode lottery, it also, does not transform the Police Officer into a Social Worker. It is my understandings from literature that sex workers the world over complain more about the police than they do clients. (Research for Sex Work issue: 10. 2008)


The increasing tendency to criminalize the client can also be seen as problematic Increasing coercive measures may be justified by the response to supply and demand, but unfortunately the policy fails to realize that men want sex and there will always be someone willing to sell it. This is not likely to change.


I will evaluate global research on street prostitution in order to compare the similarities in geographic, economical and social issues within Manchester’s sex working communities. Drawing reference to Home Office ‘Paying the Price’, 2004, and the ‘co-ordinated ‘Prostitution Stratergy,’2006, which is the Governments proposal to tackle sex work (mainly street-based) the first proposal came into circulation in 2004 and was amended in 2006. However, it is the new Criminal Justice Bill and Immigration Act, which came into practice on October 1st, 2007, which implements these proposals.


In England and Wales, the act of purchasing sex is not a criminal offence, but there are offences that effectively prohibit individuals from paying for sex on the street or in a public place.  The Sexual Offences Act 1985 introduced two distinct offences which can be used to prosecute those who buy sex:

  • kerb crawling (where someone solicits from a motor vehicle, or within the vicinity of a motor vehicle), for the purposes of prostitution, persistently or in a manner that is likely to cause annoyance to people in the neighbourhood; or
  • persistent soliciting for the purposes of prostitution (effectively kerb crawling but without a vehicle)


In America, where prostitution has been a criminal offence for decades, they have a 19% higher death rate amongst sex workers than in the United Kingdom. Research conducted in Sweden recorded testaments from sex workers who testified, that the trade has become more dangerous since the legal changes took place. (


Unavoidably, a great deal of ambiguity could be built into the strategy if this “multi- agency, holistic approach is adopted for adults. To write of prostitution as a “victim-centred crime” epitomizes the contradictions. An individual cannot be simultaneously both victim and criminal; she / he must be one or the other, and if the individual moves from one to the other and back again, confusion will reign. (Phoenix, J. 2002)


As Jo Phoenix states, ‘redefining youth prostitution as “victim- hood” only serves to redefine the problem, while leaving intact the machinery of more traditional criminal justice responses’. Phoenix has also observed that the multi-agency approach creates its own difficulties, since accountability is shared and no individual person or organisation wishes to take full responsibility for a doubtful decision. This may result in more young people being placed in care, as the easiest available solution in difficult cases.


This vulnerable groups rights need to be placed at the forefront of policy, which the contradictory nature of the law and its application denies them. The double construction of either adult or child as “victim or criminal” removes the possibility of personal choice, thus erasing the significance of the experiences which precipitated their entry into prostitution in the first place, i.e. poverty, homelessness, drugs etc. Thus, solutions to these identified “problems” may then be “imposed” upon them from outside by a collection of agencies which may well have very different conflicting motivations for their actions.


This dissertation will analyse the impact of new UK legislation on street based male sex workers and the consequences this has on an already marginalized hard to reach group. For example, in terms of risk this could push workers into working in areas that are unfamiliar, spending less time talking to the client before jumping into the car increasing risk to them. Therefore, my analysis will address whether legislation reduces or increases risk to male sex workers.


Considering the impact of current legislation on prostitution for example; ‘Paying the Price’ 2004, 2006, and Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, will enable me to develop some recommendations in relation to the most effective way to support the personal, emotional and sexual well being of males involved in sex working and those choosing to exit.


As Palmer (2001, p.33) commented, ‘the extent of the problem regarding boys abused through prostitution remains hidden’. This is due to a culture where young men still feel they are expected to be strong and in control, know everything about sex and know how to ‘look after’ themselves. This can make it hard for young men to access services, to admit inexperience and to talk about their emotions (Trust for the Study of Adolescence, 1999), to professionals who are unable to see beyond a young mans aggression and risk taking to the cry for help that this behaviour may mask.


Young men can feel further isolated from help, as being paid or ‘rewarded’ for sex can feel like a big improvement on the sexual abuse they may have previously experienced. This payment or reward and being sexually desired by an older man can also cause a young man to feel he has some power in his life, perhaps for the first time ever. These rewards and feelings of power may deter sexually exploited young men from actively seeking help. (Child Abuse Review Vol 15:351-361, 2006).


It is recognised in the Home Office Consultation Document ` Paying the Price’ (2004), that those involved in street prostitution exercise poor/little choice. Research indicates (or concludes) that prostitution is a survival activity that shows common characteristics of those involved which includes:


  • Abuse – as many as 85% report having experienced physical abuse in the family, with 45% reporting familial sexual abuse. As many as 75% of women in prostitution were under 18 when originally coerced into prostitution. . Models of grooming and coercion into prostitution have been well researched and documented by the children’s charities (notably Barnardo’s) where children and young people under 18 are involved in prostitution, this is considered to be child abuse.
  • Difficult lives – many reported poor school attendances, as many as 70% spent time in care, and many reported running away from home or suffering periods of homelessness
  • Problematic drug misuse – as many as 95% use prostitution to support their own (and often partner’s) problematic drug use.

(These figures are drawn from a number of small-scale studies, as set out in Annex C of Paying the Price.2004: see Appendix: 4).


In my professional working experience, I have learnt never to be complacent about what provision is required or available, I found it a constant struggle to find support services and facilities that are open to boys and young men at risk of sexual exploitation or involved in sex work. I found that in Manchester Lifeshare – MSWOP (male sex workers outreach project) is the only agency working directly with this client group on issues surrounding their sex work.


It is the only one that accesses young men who sell sex in their working space whether this is in various `Red Light’ areas, bars, saunas or arcades in the City offering advice and assistance with many issues such as safer working practices, STI’s and screening information, housing, emergency accommodation, drug and alcohol services. They have developed a provision that identifies, intervenes and supports young men at risk of sexual exploitation and delivers that service, directly to those young people on the streets or in their own working space.


Literature Review

In the ‘Adult Prostitution’ literature the overwhelming majority of resources do not address male sex work at all, so much so that we could be forgiven for thinking that prostitution is not something that men ‘ do’ as a job at all. Men in this literature are resolutely the offenders-; ‘pimps’ and ‘punters’- whilst women are the sex workers. The persistent invisibility of boy’s and young men sexually exploited through prostitution has been strongly emphasised by the most recent UK research literature reviews (Chase and Statham, 2004; Home Office, 2004; Drinkwater et al, 2004).


However, arguably more visibly, a child protection focus has begun to address this neglect and was promoted in part by the writings of Rickie McMullen from Streetwise Youth (1987, 1988). These studies attempted to shift the attention to how young men experience chaotic life situations, including homelessness, substance misuse and other criminal involvements (such as petty/survivalist theft); and crucially to argue that many of these young men had experienced early sexual abuse and/ or violence within the home.


This research sought to identify the commonalities between male and female child sexual exploitation with regard to similar patterns of social and economic disadvantage and constrained choices. The Barnardo’s publication No Son of Mine (Palmer, 2001) is a clear example of this shift.


Palmer identified two ‘categories’ of boys and young men who are at risk:

  • Those `escaping’ from situations where they are vulnerable to abuse, who engages in transactional sex for survival on the street.
  • Those whose early sexual abuse ‘conditions’ their own abusive behaviour towards peers, leading them to a ‘prostitution life’.


The literature review goes on to addresses, the issues of ‘sexism’ and ‘vulnerability’; ‘Prostitution’ or ‘Sex work’ in a Post Modern Britain In order to gain an insight into the historical framework of the lack of acknowledgement of this client group not only in current Government policy and in legislation but historically. This is evident throughout historical literature showing an institutionalized and colonalised past, which draws on the theory of power and control in a patriarchal society.


A notable theme that has developed over time in literature on men who sell sex to men is the identification of certain groups and men who sell sex. For example in a recent piece of research into the ‘world of male sex trade workers’ Dorais (2005, chapter 5) suggests male sex workers fall into 1 of 4 groups:


Outcasts: vulnerable, drug and alcohol addicted which was the sole reason for their involvement in sex work.

Part-timers: who use sex work occasionally as a means to make money.

Insiders: who see other sex workers and associated networks as a social family.

Liberationists: who use sex work to gain a sense of self and actualise themselves.


This is problematic in many ways. Although such men exist within the sex industry and some individuals would fall into all four groups, it is possible to argue that by attaching labels to men who sell sex may increase levels of stigma, and also over generalise the complex identities of men who sell sex to men.


For example, those placed into the liberationist group may be discriminated against when attempting to access services, as it could be perceived that their choice to enter sex work was made with more positive agency than perhaps the outcast; who may have been given unlimited access to services because of their drug and alcohol issues, and associated negative social disclosure surrounding drug and alcohol use.


The labelling of male sex workers denies their agency as individuals, as ‘each individual brings to commercial sex his unique life experiences, values, beliefs, needs and expectations, images of himself and the other, also past sexual experiences, and knowledge of skills and safety strategies’ (Browne and Minichiello, 1995 p602).


Key Issues in Paying the Price 2004

In this section I will look at the key issues identified in ‘Paying the Price’ (2004) and use this as a frame work for my own study and interviews.


Paying the price consultation document on prostitution
Click to download


Click to Download


Chapter 2 of `Paying the Price 2004’ identifies the key issues to prostitution as being:

  • Abuse through involvement in prostitution for the individual sex worker
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Criminality related theft, soliciting and drugs
  • Violence and physical abuse
  • Nuisance to neighbourhoods from sex work related issues
  • Abuse of young people
  • Trafficking
  • Stigmatisation


Paying the Price uses the phrase, “those involved in prostitution “as a way of including all women and men, boys and girls` who may be involved. This masks the fact that prostitution is deeply gendered: although men and boys are prostitutes, and there are also women involved in running the selling of sexual services, the vast majority of those selling sex are female and those buying are male. In my opinion, the gender-neutralising of language only masks the whole issue making it unclear, as the problem is far from transparent and the solutions on offer, less than practical.


Paying the Price acknowledges however, on page fourteen- “it is most associated with women and young girls but there is also a significant sex market involving men and young boys.” Page fifteen of the document highlights that it is estimated that in the UK up to 5000 young people may be involved in prostitution, with a female ratio of 4:1. Page seventeen of the report describes an average prostitute ‘user’ as being a man. (Paying the Price. 2004).


The Policy Context and UK Policy Review

As we’ve already seen in this dissertation, policy on prostitution control has not been very gender sensitive. In this section, I explore how this control agenda affects the vulnerability and life choices of this vulnerable group.


Government policies focus on eliminating sex work by applying criminal laws rather than by adopting pragmatic “harm reduction” interventions that attempt to mitigate harms linked to sex work or by responding with reforms to create environments for sex worker rights promotion. A comprehensive rights-based approach to protecting sex workers health and human rights must confront the harms that emanate from society’s response to sex work, not simply from sex work itself. Such an approach must concentrate on bringing the voices of people in sex work into the mix, so that their experiences can inform reform and such an approach must respect the basic rights of all person’s to participate in determining the public policies and structures that affect them.( Research for Sex Work.2008,issue:10)


Understanding the operation of governance in advanced capitalist societies furthers understanding of what may appear as contradictory in a prostitution policy which offers social inclusion to sex workers via welfare-inspired exit interventions while continuing to criminalize those who ‘persist’ in selling sex (Home Office 2006a). This is evidence of what Sullivan (2001) terms a schizophrenic criminal justice process in which ‘social inclusive neo-liberal techniques of regulation can co-exist with more overt forms of control and repression’.


Such duality is possible because, as Garland notes, ‘inclusion was never really on offer, but was simply utilized as a feature of risk management and responsibilization. By being; ‘contingent on offender change and compliance, ‘social inclusion’, when it fails, can be quickly substituted with exclusion by more effective means such as custody and incapacitation’ (Garland 1997:6).


Yet, these newer forms of control are even more extensive. The current regulatory strategy not only maintains the criminalization of soliciting, but also recommends rehabilitation interventions for ‘those individuals who, for whatever reason, continue to be involved in street prostitution’ (Home Office 2006a). Thus, the previous regime of criminalization is re-framed and actually augmented by a wider range of control mechanisms and forms of professional intervention that may be even more pervasive than the previous system of cautions and fines. The apparent increased ‘protection’ promised by reforms, will result in the increased policing of sex workers lives (Phoenix 2002:82).


The ideology underpinning previous forms of regulation thus continues via the focus on exiting as a means of reducing community harm and the exploitation of those involved in prostitution. In effect, the problem is reduced to ‘one of recalcitrant individuals unwilling to accept offers of “help and support” (Melrose 2006:12).


This promotes a form of governance that individualizes problems and detracts attention from governments’ failure to tackle the underlying conditions that give rise to prostitution in the first place, such as a young persons’ poverty and social exclusion (Melrose 2006: 12, Phoenix and Oerton 2005).


Evidence shows that there are many examples of good practice in the UK in terms of preventative measures, enforcement and support but few areas offer a comprehensive package of measures to effectively disrupt local sex markets (Kantola, Squires.2004). The current policy vacuum has resulted in confusion about whether prostitution should be controlled or managed and in some areas; this has resulted in little official activity in disrupting know ‘Red Light’ area’s.


In Manchester the City Council is taking a multi-disciplinary approach to street prostitution, in order to develop policy, procedures and structures of support and enforcement. There are no specific City-Level policies relating to male sex work in Manchester, presently MSWOP (male sex workers outreach project)and the re-established prostitution forum are working closely with the City Council and the police in an advisory capacity on implementing strategies and programmes in this field.


Findings from interviews with professionals

Worker (T) -Outreach Worker

Worker (A) –Social Inclusion Project

Worker (P) –Drug’s Worker


After consultation, discussions and drawing from my own personal experience of working in Manchester, over the past few years, I have seen a very gender biased approach to services allocated to sex workers. This made me question why this is. I approached the Sergeant at Bootle St Police station, who is responsible for the Gay Village and the City Centre for his opinion on why there is no funding for male sex workers from the police or an allocated liaison officer.


He informed me:

” That crime is a social issue, and if there are no arrests or complaints from the community about male sex workers, then it is not seen as a problem or a priority.” Hence, the issue remains hidden or masked by society’s tolerance of an activity within an area.


He informed me, that the force does have a prostitution liaison officer who works part-time who would be available to deal with any issues arising. Since my interview with the Sergeant the Prostitution Liaison Officer has been reassigned to another role. At present it is unclear whether or not she will be replaced or her duties allocated to Community Liaison Offices.


My first interview undertaken was with worker T. from, The Male Sex Workers Outreach Project (MSWOP), which is a project within Lifeshare. MSWOP work with young men, up to the age of twenty-five, in Manchester; who are at risk of sexual exploitation or involved in sex work. In 2002 they cared out research among these young men, and found that many were homeless; few were aware of the health risks to which they were exposing themselves, and few were engaging with any services. There was no agencies, (neither statutory nor voluntary) working with these lads as a group. The project has one full-time, and one part-time, Outreach worker, who make contacted with and get to know the young men who are providing sex for money. The workers can then offer advice on various issues, and explain about what help is available for the particular issues raised by each service user. They have established good working relationships with other agencies in Manchester which enables them to fast-track access to emergency accommodation; sexual health treatment and treatment for drug problems.


(T) Described Manchester as, ‘a magnet for runner ways and drifters; as well as men who like to pay for sex; it has a thriving night life and a large Gay Scene’. He explained that the city has a large population of young men selling sex on the streets, through sexual exploitation due to their circumstances. The dynamics and practices of sex work in each sector are diverse and radically different .He explained to me, that in his opinion “ young male sex workers are not viewed in the same way as working women and that the ‘gender neutral’ co-ordinated prostitution strategy for prostitution is evidence of this.”


He pointed out, that he has worked for seven years with young men who sell sex on the streets of Manchester and he is all too aware of the problems his clients face, however, he says, up until recently the police interest had been very low.


I asked why he thought there had been a change. “It’s been ignored for ages,” he says. “But now that they’re receiving complaints from residents in the swanky new flats, that are being built, they’ve got to do something”. He went on to say that the police had asked him to identify sex workers and when he asked them what they intended to do with the information, they said ‘arrest them’; He explained that he could not go along with this because it was not going to achieve anything. They would get a fine and have to work harder to pay it off or they would get an ASBO (Anti-social behaviour order) that would result in pushing them underground. To illustrate the hypocrisy behind this approach he points to police-led initiatives with working girls. “They have a police liaison officer who runs advice surgeries for working girls. They don’t arrest female sex workers when they arrive there, do they?”


Worker .T. was very concerned about the increase in young rent boys openly touting for business in Manchester’s Gay Village and the lack of support available to them.


He described a situation that he witnessed, where a young thirteen-year-old boy, who had just absconded from social services care and was now working the streets. He explained that; “they face huge dangers for example; if they are invited back to someone’s flat they have no idea what they are going back to. They could be raped, it could be a paedophile ring, they could even be killed, you just don’t know.”


He continued “ There is this myth that rent boys are gay people who are just experimenting,” he suggests that most of his clients are straight and are driven into sex work for different reasons such as drug addiction, homelessness and lack of benefits ; It’s the only way they can survive. When they get out of it there’s an enormous sense of shame that they have to live with.”


He went on to say, “these young men and boys are with-out doubt damaged individuals, victims of child abuse, drug users, or with mental health problems, and mostly sell sex out of desperation. They are being exploited, and the clandestine nature of the industry means that the true-scale of the exploitation could be far worse than is currently thought “


According to worker T, MSWOP was developed as a service in 2005 by Lifeshare and was the first agency in Manchester to work with male sex workers. Their research suggests that there are approximately fifty- sixty young men selling sex in Manchester. (See appendix: 3).


The main issues he identified were; homelessness, substance dependency and mental health issues and earlier childhood abuse which led them into sex work. Some as young as thirteen years of age and due to their circumstances, can often find themselves sexually exploited by older men, feeling they have no other choice but to sell sex to survive.


The heightened value of youth on the male sex scene means that young boys are in hot demand. However, he explained that; “ one of the biggest problems is that boys seem to reach a sell-by date, when they have lost their pretty-boy looks and consequently, the boys tend to become abusers in their own right or criminals of other sorts to fund the lifestyles and habits to which they’ve become addicted”.


Lifeshares research indicates that some of these young men hang around soup vans or bars in the Gay village and befriend younger lads by giving out cigarettes, joints (Cannabis) or alcohol. This leads to situation were the previous victim begins to turn `abuser’ years down the line, in turn recruiting other youngster to work for them. He describes these lads to have the attitude that no-one cared when this was happening to them, so justify to themselves that there is nothing wrong in getting paid to recruit someone younger into the trade. In the past six years four MSWOP clients have died through drug overdose and incidents involving punters.


Their research has shown that there is an urgent need for harm reduction, health promotion, and resettlement and that it is necessary to provide the young men with information in order to make them aware of the potential risks they face through selling sex. By selling sex these young men are running a huge risk of violence, rape and emotional problems, and sexual transmitted infections Therefore, the main aim of the agency is to work with the young men and provide condoms, information, support and signposting to enable them to make safe choices about sex work and also encouraging and supporting those who choose to exit.


Up until the October of 2007 MSWOP’S statistics showed that they had worked with a total of seventy-eight young men many with complex needs and introduced them to other relevant services to enable them to make a choice, change their lives, and exit sex work. (See Appendix: 3. MSWOP Research Statistics 2007)


In order to access their clients in there working spaces, twice a week an outreach team goes out into areas where young men sell sex and offer harm reduction services and fast track referral into accommodation and treatment agency’s.


Worker.T. Described how the outreach, is “A way of engaging and building relationships, in order to introduce them to a range of services to meet their needs. This client group are so chaotic that they have trouble in accessing services, so detached outreach is vital in order to deliver a very holistic approach to support this marginalized group of clients. “


Interview Worker A:

Worker A has worked with homeless young people for the past ten years and has been very vocal on a policy level on the needs of men who sell sex to men on a street based level.


I asked worker A: “In your estimation how many men sell sex in Manchester at this present time?”

“There are probably about 40-50 young men aged between 15-25 years working however, they would not be visible on the various beats at any one time.”


Worker A, went on to explain that many of the men will work for single, or multiple periods of days, weeks, months or years, and also work sporadically within these time frames. Therefore, they are very hard to engage on regular weekly basis, are often viewed as unreliable, problematic and chaotic by services that run on a 9-5 basis.


I asked worker A, about the sexuality of their client group, and how they identify themselves?

“A lot of the young men are unsure about their `sexuality’ due to the nature of their work. Although many identify as homosexual and bisexual, a large majority identify as heterosexual.”

This client group find it hard or impossible to access services frequented by other homosexual or bisexual male sex workers as this is, a work related issue, rather then one of sexuality for them.


This corresponded with my own beliefs and research that in order to provide effective and efficient services for young men who sell sex, it is necessary to understand the complexity and contingency of sexual identity and it’s (re) production in space. Hence, the complex ways in which young men who sell sex negotiate their sexuality within apparently `queer’ spaces has been a central focus within my literature review in order to evaluate the complex needs of this service user group.


We went on to discuss the Home Office document `Paying the Price’ (2004) and co-ordinated prostitution strategy, and whether any local strategy changes had come from the national policy.


Worker A stated: “there is very little change, apart from a (semi) national scheme on Kerb crawling and ‘Dodge Punter scheme’, which was launched at Manchester Town Hall by Crime stoppers. This was a poster campaign aimed at deterring ‘ punters’ from picking up women on the streets (Home Office 2007).I t did nothing to deter the men seeking to purchase a sexual service.


In this section of the chapter, I return to the key issues in `Paying the Price, 2004,’ and discuss them in relation to the situations of male sex workers in Manchester. Using notes from my interviews with key informants, particularly: Drugs worker (P): an Outreach worker (T).and Care Manager (A): Social Inclusion Project. In order to illuminate my discussion and findings on the effects of Government policies in relation to risk and vulnerability of street based male sex workers.


“Sex Markets attract the most ruthless members of society, who feed an ever growing demand for `Sexual Gratification’. Study’s have proven that the clientele’s of these different markets vary considerably.” (Dorais, 2005)

Abuse and Vulnerability

Young men selling sex are often perceived as “delinquent” rather than vulnerable, so younger men selling sex and their service needs remain largely unseen. Research suggests that the exploitation of young males is often ignored because society often fails to recognise that young men are vulnerable.


Research from the Home Office Development and Statistics Directorate (2003), suggests that one of the reasons men may become involved in selling sex is linked to issues of rejection from the family and society due to their sexual identity. It is important to recognize these complex issues that shape some men’s experience of sex work.


Worker.T. described ‘how many of his clients had been targeted by older men they met in bars in the Gay Village (Manchester). It would start with a friendship, the older man buying gifts to win their trust. Which they would later be expected to repay the debt with sex. He described one horrific case, in which a young boy of fourteen was groomed for two years and then sold to a paedophile ring. Over a six day period, he was taken round the country by his captors; Leeds Crown Court was told “it became impossible for him to remember how many men he had serviced or in what circumstance”. This case highlights the vulnerabilities of young men.



Homelessness is the biggest problem identified for most young men selling sex in Manchester. For example MSWOP identified that a large proportion of their clients are homeless or inadequately housed. Many of them staying on friends floors; or couches (sofa surfing); staying with ‘punters’; temporary accommodation and some are street homeless. MSWOP has been able to form a fast track referral process into a local hostel and has several of their clients living in semi-supported accommodation. These clients were identified by workers as needing a lot of support to maintain tenancies. MSWOP identified gaps in crisis housing/hostel accommodation for young men selling sex and generally found there were not enough suitable housing provision for gay people and even less for Trans -gender. (


Criminality and Trafficking

The historical context of prostitution policy reform in the United Kingdom includes regulationism, suppression and welfarism (Mathews and O’Neill 2003: xvii) with multi-agency (welfarist) responses to street sex work appearing since the late 1980’s in response to conflicting interests and tensions around communities, sex workers and statutory and voluntary agencies offering services and support.


It is interesting to note that in the last ten years, the police have closed only one London based male brothel and the owners prosecuted. Yet, even in this case, the charges on which the owners were given custodial sentences pertained to unpaid tax (from the brothel) rather than the running of a male brothel.  Research composed by the UK Network of sex worker projects (UKNSWP) states that, organised crime in relation to adult male sex workers appears to be extremely rare.


Drug Use and Male Sex work

It is acknowledged that an element of street working men as well as women use drugs, solvents and alcohol, and experience the related street criminality that links to that drug culture (Connell & Hart, 2003).


May et al, (1999), examines the links between `sex markets’ and `drug markets’ in three areas of the UK. They found that the increasing use of crack cocaine made the distinction between drug using and non-drug using women even more marked. My research indicates this is the same for MSM. The men who used crack-cocaine worked more frequently, and were more likely to experience detrimental effects to their health.


In interviewing worker .P. ( Drugs worker) it was identified that there are a higher proportion of street sex workers accessing the service who used crack-cocaine as their first drug of choice, crack use had a particularly detrimental impact on the person concerned, increasing their vulnerability to ‘violence’, exploitation and issues of sexual health and safe sex practice. Explaining, that the use of crack increased the men’s risk-taking behaviour. for example; such as allowing sex without a condom because they were trading sex for crack.


Also, identified was homelessness as a major problem, with a lot of clients living in hostels, temporary accommodation or sofa surfing. Some clients were forced into performing a sexual service in exchange for a bed for the night.


Worker.P. raised particular concerns about the perceived increase in the number of sex workers with dual-addictions to both heroine and crack; in fact many were poly drug users. This poly drug use also has a detrimental effect on the client’s mental health and well being. In my interview with worker A, it was stated: “a lot of the clients used drugs to keep them alert, but equally as a form of coping strategy. Most clients were also described as poly-drug users.


McKeganey’s and Barrnard’s (1996) research found that sex workers who have a drug addiction will inject drugs before going to work to make it bearable, and it is more likely that their primary reason to work will be to support a drug habit. It is recognised that drugs and alcohol could impede personal judgement, and also, if a client has taken a cocktail of drugs and alcohol their mood could be affected which could lead to a violent or dangerous situation. (Connell and Hart 2003).


Risky sexual practice and injecting drug use (which is most common among young men who sell sex on the streets) are factors that must be addressed and managed by good working practice and harm reduction support.(



The issue of rape and sexual assault is one that all professionals raised as an issue of concern and risk, and training on dealing with sexual abuse/assault is needed when working with this vulnerable group. In my literature review I found it very hard to locate research on violence against male sex workers however, there is a growing body of literature concerning violence experienced by women involved in street prostitution (Barnard and Hart, 2000): Lawman, 2000; Miller and Schwartz, 1995; Pyett and War, 1999; Williamson and Foleron, 2001; McKeganey and Barnord, 1996).


It has been documented that women involved in street prostitution are reluctant to report violent crime committed against them to the police (Mc Kegoney and Barnard, 1996; Campehall et al, 1999). This is a result of their common perception that they have no recourse to justice, accepting violence as an occupational hazard (Phoenix, 2000; Williamson and Foleron, 2001). Worker, T. described similarities in the attitudes of his clients in reporting violence or homophobic attacks against them.



Street prostitution also causes serious damage to the communities which are affected by it, undermining community confidence and making an area unpleasant and even dangerous to live and work in. The presence of street prostitution can attract drug dealers and pimps to the area, and with them increased levels of serious and violent crime, including assaults and street robberies.


Much of the money paid by clients will end up in the pockets of drug dealers, helping to support and fund further criminal activity. Anti-social behavior including noise and kerb-crawling causes considerable nuisance and disturbance. Kerb-crawlers will often mistakenly focus their attention on other women/men passing by and, those selling sex on men who are not potential clients. Detritus and litter, such as used condoms and discarded needles can also be a problem, posing a potentially serious health hazard to children. Together, these factors can have a serious impact on the quality of life of those living and working in areas where street prostitution takes place.


Young men and exploitation

‘The commercial exploitation of boys is perhaps the most hidden form of child abuse in Britain and the one about which least is known.’

(Nottingham Police Authority, 2001).


‘Sexual exploitation of children is defined as involving boys and girls up to the age of 18 in sexual activity in the form of prostitution and/or pornography which involves treating young people as a commodity. This renders them vulnerable to assault, disease, substance abuse, trafficking and may threaten their lives’. (Manchester Area Child Protection Committee).


In regard to entry into prostitution, my research and literature review indicates that there is no single route through which children and young people become involved in prostitution. The involvement in prostitution of young people tends to be more hidden than that of adult women (Cusick, 2002) and consequently it is difficult to ascertain the extent to which young people are involved. Although estimates of prevalence vary (Shaw and Butler, 1998: McNesh, 1998; Bluett et al, 2000) indicators from various sources suggest that the numbers involved have increased in recent years (Green, 1992).


Children and young people involved in prostitution face immense risk to their physical, emotional and psychological health. The environment in which prostitution is located tends to have close links with criminal behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse and violence. Children drawn into this kind of sexual abuse become exposed to these risks and therefore, should be viewed by professionals in all circumstances as “being at risk of significant harm” (Children Act 1989).


Worker T. identified several indicators, which may lead to children and young people becoming more vulnerable to sexual exploitation in the form of prostitution:

  • Homelessness- they may sell sex in exchange for a bed for the night, or food;
  • Financial necessity- not being eligible for benefits;
  • Drug and alcohol abuse, lured into sex work to pay drug debts, support own/partners habit
  • Children in care are especially vulnerable because of a number of factors: history of previous abuse, low self-esteem, searching for a loving relationship, being targeted by sex offenders and the prevalence of running away.
  • Exclusion or simply none attendance of school.
  • Stigmatisation and Isolation


Moore, P. (2002) describes, the stigma surrounding the sex industry involvement for male sex workers as a burden on three different levels. Firstly, there is the primary judgment that it is immoral to provide sexual services in exchange for money or goods. Secondly, male workers are often presumed to be homosexual, regardless of their sexual preference and activity outside the work environment. This predominately affects street based workers, who often face harassment and violence from police and perpetrators of homophobic physical attacks. (Research Sex Work. Issue 10.2008)


Finally, there is the attachment of AIDS related phobia, and the presumption of an HIV positive status as a male sex worker and assumed homosexual. The implications of these stigmas are internalised by many male sex workers, and can often result in confusion over sexual preference, lack of self-esteem and a sense of isolation.


Recent research has highlighted that male sex workers in Manchester have very complex and constantly negotiated sexual identities, (Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) 2004). Although many of the young men identify as homosexual or bisexual, they are often unsure of their ‘sexuality’ because of the nature of their work. This has resulted in them attempting to understand their sexuality in much more fluid terms. In addition to this, many male sex workers identify as heterosexual and they feel unable to access services frequented by other homosexual or bisexual male sex workers.


In order to provide effective and efficient services for young men who sell sex, it is necessary to understand the complexity and contingency of sexual identity and it’s (re) production in space. Hence, the complex ways in which young men selling sex negotiate their sexualities within apparently ‘queer’ spaces (CF Binnie and Skeggs, 2004 and Kitchen, 2002) has been a constant concern within this research project. The embodied sexualised practice of sex work must have further exploration by policy makers in order to meet the complex needs of service user groups, through effective policy implementation and practice.

Recommendations from Research

Evaluating research from the United States on entry into male sex work, it placed the main reason in structural material conditions that have forced men to sell sex, stressing the economic motivations for practicing sex work. In 2002 research conducted by the University of Leeds, titled ‘Men and Boy’s: selling sex in the Bradford district, suggests their experiences can vary widely. Home-based sex workers had often found their first client through advertising, usually when they were in their mid-twenties. Were as street worker’s introduction was usually more exploitative, and took place when they were aged between twelve and fifteen years. I found these reasons mirrored the situations of many young men in Manchester.


In my consultation with support workers from Greater Manchester, I identified that the key motivation for entry into sex work would be mainly economically motivated. For example, due to delays in a new benefit claim. In addition, professionals seemed to identify housing and homelessness as a gateway into sex work. They described their clients as usually having low levels of formal education and their work choices are limited to unskilled labour, which pays them much less than the ‘money’ provided by sex work. The main problem identified by all workers was the problem of accessing benefits especially between the ages of 16-19 years.


All workers described or classified sex workers as a high risk and diverse group, but not mainly due to the risk of contracting HIV. However, agencies must be aware that classifying sex workers as a risk group not only does not protect them against HIV but also actually puts them at greater risk (not of contracting HIV but of being morally hurt).


In addition, if we consider the commercial sex transaction between two men; thus highlighting the ambiguity of traditional feminist notions of exploiter and exploited. (Nagle, J.1997) Overwhelmingly, those who become involved in street prostitution have a history of neglect, poverty; physical or sexual abuse as a child, schooling difficulties and substance abuse problems.


These problems are not confined to Manchester Home Office research (2004) reports the same problems on a national level. The vast majority of males who are involved in street prostitution have problems with drug or alcohol misuse, and the majority will cite this as their main reason for being involved.


Other underlying factors can also play an important part in influencing young person’s entry into street prostitution. These include:

  • Untreated. Mental illness;
  • Breakdown and experience of being looked after outside of the family;
  • Experience of sexual, psychological and physical abuse;
  • Under-achievement at school and a lack of employment skills;
  • Experience of unemployment;
  • Experience of homelessness or insecure housing;
  • Financial exclusion and debt problems


In summary, factors that could collectively be described as social exclusion are strongly associated with involvement in prostitution. Work intended to prevent entry into prostitution should be focused on those who are at most risk.


Therefore, Specific attention should be given to young people who are leaving Local Authority Care. Many of those in Local Authority Care will have experienced family breakdown and some are likely to have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse before being taken into care.


These factors are known to increase the likelihood of future involvement in prostitution. There is evidence that individuals who ‘groom’ vulnerable young people, coercing or luring them into prostitution, target care homes. Clear advice must be available to care home staff on the risks, and staff should be encouraged to report suspicious activity such as the presence of adult men associating with children in the care home, to the police.


It is important that all those who work with young people who may be vulnerable to becoming involved in prostitution are aware of the risk factors, and the signs which may indicate that a particular young person is involved, or at markedly increased risk of becoming involved. Social workers, health Professionals, teachers, school nurses, Emergency medicine staff, GPs, sexual health Clinics and teenage pregnancy services and will often, be best placed to recognize risk factors. They need information and guidance to enable them to-do so and to respond appropriately. The charity Barnardos has produced material relating to sexual exploitation of young people which may be helpful for training purpose – purses for staff and is free to down load. (


Implicit, and often explicit, in the discourse of empowerment is the idea of consciousness raising. The purpose of empowerment is to enable people who perceive themselves as having no power to take power. Society has disempowered groups of people by teaching them to locate their difficulties within themselves, as personal defiance, rather than locating them externally to themselves, as structural injustices. (Friere, P.1986.p.127)


It is evident, that, given the wrong set of circumstances, any young man could be at risk of becoming sexually exploited. However, it is the extremely vulnerable boys and young men, that the majority of social and youth workers or youth justice professionals are probably already working with, who are the group that are significantly more likely to be targeted by an abusive adult, and whom society should be protecting more effectively.


Wilkes (1981) argues, from a broadly humanist standpoint, that many ‘undervalued groups’ of clients, whose disability or problem we cannot cure immediately, would benefit from social worker intervention that explores meaning within their lives. The worker would share experiences in a liberating way, achieving specific therapeutic aims. By taking a Critical social work approach which tries to reconstruct power relations by analysing and reflecting on the power that exists in people’s situations and then trying to reconceptualise it. Communication and dialogue helps people to see how power is being used in the situation they are in, and we must then try to negotiate experiences of new power relations, new structures that are less disempowering for people.( Davies,M.1998)


The Marxist concept of ideology sees it as a system of beliefs that has been institutionalized as part of the way in which a society or part of a society operates. My research has highlighted that their is a continuum of experiences, research, and theories on sex work, sexual exploitation, the forced trafficking of children; abuse of sex workers at the hands of customers and law enforcement, to the independent sex worker expressing his/ her own sense of agency. Social Workers need to be aware of the complex socioeconomic and cultural problems surrounding this issue.


Therefore, these fundamental ethics link Social Workers internationally, in the protection of their clients’ Human Rights. Following the Code of Ethics, Social Workers must respect the dignity and worth of their clients; their right to self-determination; combat racism, sexism and classism as it intersects in the lives of those clients.( Vol:13 .3 (2001), Journal British Association of Social Workers).


Social workers have an obligation to remember that all people, including sex workers, have a right to self-determination. We must assist this vulnerable group when they want to leave the sex trade industry and support those who cannot or do not exit. It is the individual who must choose the options that are best for them, and the social worker’s job to provide the services that best protect and meet the needs of the client.



Appendix: 1 Research Proposal

Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care


Name: Judith Anne Vickers

Route: BA Social Work

Year: 3


Title of research/dissertation

Male street based sex workers in Manchester, A, ‘Hidden Population’ Prostitution’ or ‘Sex work’? , In a Post Modern Britain.


Focusing on Male Street based sex workers and the lack of acknowledgement of this client group in Government Policy and Legislation. Policy which, does not reflect, the true diversity of the sex industry in Britain today.


The result: A lack of service Provision for this marginalized and vulnerable group. The research will asses whether the implementation of local regulatory mechanism in Manchester in response to ‘Paying the Price’ (2004) are feasible, and if normative change is possible through integration of theory, policy and the Justice system.


Background to the Study

Men are as much part of the sex industry as women, a long with transgender workers. However, in 2004 the UK Home Office published a consultation paper on sex work, after a review of the Sex Offences Act (2003). The paper, ‘Paying the Price’, was criticized by specialist services for giving less priority to the health of sex workers and focusing too much on issues of criminal justice. Despite this the paper was amended and circulated in 2006 as a prostitution strategy document.


The document focuses mainly on street based female sex workers, trafficking and the sexual exploitation and abuse of children through prostitution. There is little information or discussion about other sectors of sex work and groups of sex workers. Despite this, the document considers policy options, which directly impact on other sectors of the sex industry, particularly regarding models of legislation.


‘Paying the Price’, therefore does not reflect the diversity of the sex industry, or the diversity of sex workers’ experience of it. Historically the Government and society when hearing the word ‘Prostitute’ automatically assume the female gender. This is understandable to a point when you consider there are many more women in prostitution than men with an estimated ratio: 4-1 (UKNSWP, 2007).


If we accept that around 80-90 per cent of the population is heterosexual, and that women seldom use the service of prostitutes/sex workers, then it stands to conclude that the majority of customers are heterosexual men. (Tatchell, P. 2008).


Unfortunately the development of the arguments for or against prostitution and studies on prostitution have until recently continued on a gender bias, with no concern for men involved in prostitution, either as workers, or more glaringly, as clients. Policies, services and rhetoric have chosen to participate in the battle between men (clients, cops) vs. women (prostitutes), instead of looking at prostitution as a ubiquitous ingredient of the human experience.


This bias is a product of sexism in our society that oppresses women at every turn. Those who are against prostitution see the profession as yet another example of violence against women by men. (Pearce et al, 2002, Cusick et al, 2003). Prostitution advocates see sex work as away for women to empower themselves, at the expense, literally, of men. Sex workers of other genders do not fit easily into the equation, and therefore are lacking in appropriate services to cater for their needs.


Another part of the problem of sexism is the assumption that men in the industry do not need protection, rights or support. Since men cause all the problems in prostitution, what do male sex workers have to worry about? Surely a man would not attempt with another man the same pressures he tries with women. Again, the narrow man vs. women model of prostitution ignores the other combinations, but the erroneous assumption that men can handle themselves is reflected in the amount of services and education geared toward men in the industry.



My aims, aspirations and goals for my dissertation will be reached through my research and discourse analysis, which will highlight the experiences of young male sex workers and how effective current service provision is and whether Policy and guidelines to intervention will support this diverse hard to reach group.


My objective will focus on male street based sex workers in Manchester, reflecting on personal working observations and experience with this client group. Drawing on data from Government legislation, Social and Economical Cost Reports and Crime and Disorder Acts, to mention just a few of the areas I will research in order to critique and discuss the discourse analysis.


The literature review aims to address issues of: Sexism/sexuality-vulnerability, ‘sex work’ or ‘prostitution’. The impact of labels of identities-‘Queer theory’-discussing the feminist view, which views sex work as being oppressive to women.



The methodological design theory of the study will utilize my skills in research using a qualitative approach. The interviews will be with professionals, who have worked with street-based sex workers. They will last no more than an hour, comprising of five or six questions in the form of semi-structured interviews. In order to remember the facts accurately I will record my interviews with the participant consent. The National Centre for Social Research has produced a quality framework to set standards that social research can be judged on. It was these guidelines that I reflected on to consider my approach or strategy of research and data collection and analysis.


This will address the evaluation process, offering well-founded and plausible arguments about the significance of the data generated. The feedback to my field study will enable me to gage how realistic recommendations made are and how possible it may be to implement positive changes in Manchester. I intend to draw from literature and field studies, government documents and strategies to reflect and evaluate this through grounded theories and ideologies.


The discourse analysis of such legislation, literature and strategy documents will provide a readily available data source also these feedback mechanisms will allow dissemination of research as well as providing a bases for policy recommendations. Drawing on professional experience of working with both male and female sex workers will give me a knowledge base to compare and reflect on.


Qualitative research methods are particularly appropriate when focusing on the experience of under-researched groups or groups that are misunderstood in society. Anne Phoenix in reference to teenage pregnancy suggests:  ‘The negative focus is produced by people who are not, themselves, “young mothers” but rather outsiders. There is generally a disjunction between “outsider” and “insider” perspective’ (1991:86).


With this in mind I will attempt to access the “insider” perspective via my semi-structured interviews and questioners with workers to gain an incite into the service users experiences. The methodology will focus on the obsession in this society of labelling based on who you have sex with, which has resulted in many problems for those who do not conform. For example bisexual people; men who have sex, with men for money but who don’t identify as gay or bi-sexual have no box to tick.


One of the aims of my dissertation is to prove that because of the demand by society for sexual identity and labels for that identity can leave many clients that don’t conform in service twilight zone. The man, who has sex with men for money but is not gay, does not fit in to the structure of service provision, these clients do not identify as homosexual and do not want to use L.G.B.T. (Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) services. This client group is a very diverse hard to reach group, in part because of the sexual identity issue. In Aids services this is a crucial crook in service provision.


My dissertation will bring together diverse perspectives and experiences to explore the theoretical, sociological, political economic dimensions of sex work in a globalized world. At the Activist and academic levels, the dialog on sex work has divided primarily into to opposing camps/positions the Anti-porn/Anti-Trafficking movements, who view all sex work as exploitative and coerced and therefore to be eradicated, while the ‘Sex work as work’ position advocates that sex work be recognised as a legitimate profession with the accompanied legal protection. The latter movement explores the diversity and contradictions of the sex industry involving issues of gender, race, class and capitalist economy.


Methods of Data collection

Foucault is most associated with Discourse analysis, so I intend to study his ideology and theoretical concept that the discursive is as important as the real, for example the discourse around sex work (that is female) has a real effect on the opinions of the general public. In order to keep my information collecting with in a worker able time frame, I will gather the workers opinions via semi-structured interviews which I will record and transcribe.


Schedule of the research



Ethical issues

Ethical issues always arise in the course of social research it typically requires taking into account considerations beyond those of ethical theories and models of ethical reasoning. It is important as a social researcher, to consider the reasons for my actions and others’ actions during the conduct of research and to Asses the validity of those reasons, and reform my actions against the backdrop of a systematic and thoughtful account of human responsibility. (Schwandt.T.2007)


It is important and necessary to recognize that ethics, epistemology, and politics are intertwined. These ethical obligations of researcher to researched will be met through a written agreement between both parties (informed consent) which will explain the purpose of the research, assure anonymity of research participants, the anticipated duration and extent of the subjects involvement, the procedures to be employed, assurances of confidentiality, the potential risks and the benefits to the study.


The research will be approved by the faculties’ ethics committee prior to any work done with workers. Any issues that arise during the course of my research will be discussed with my research supervisor by having informal reviews and independent discussion will help me to keep my research within an ethical framework to avoid any exploitation of services users.



I intend to keep cost to a minimum occurring the most in the interview or questioner period from April to June 08 when I will have to travel to and from services in order to engage with workers. I will also budget for light refreshments for those taking part, for example coffee and a sandwich. The rest of my costing will be occurred in the printing and binding of my work.



Day S, Ward H, (2004). Sex work, mobility and health in Europe. London: Kegan Paul.

Cusisk,L and Hickman, M. ( 2005). “Trapping in Drug and Sex Work Careers.” Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. 12 (5): 369-379.

Pearce,J. Williams ,M and Galvin,C. (2002). It’s someone taking a part of you: A study of young women and sexual exploitation. National Children’s Bureau.

Saks M. & Allsop.J. (2007), Researching Health Qualitative, quantitive and mixed methods. Sage Publications, London.

Schwandt T.A. (2007), 3rd Ed, The Sage Dictionary of Qualitive inquiry, Sage Publications, London.

Silverman.D. (2006). 3rd Ed, Interpreting Qualitive Data, Sage Publications Ltd,London.

Silverman.D. (2005) 2nd Ed .Doing Qualitative Research, , Sage Publications Ltd, London.

Home Office. (2004). ‘Paying the Price’. London: Home Office,

Home Office (2006). ‘Paying the Price.’ London: Home Office,


Ethics Check Form


Appendix 2: Key legislation pertaining to street sex work, England, Wales and Scotland

Table 1.1.




Sex work legal Framework in England and Wales

The main legislation relating to prostitution in England and Wales is contained in the Sexual Offences Act 1956, the Street Offences Act 1959 and the Sexual Offences Act 1985 and 2003. The 1956 Act relates mainly to off street prostitution, the 1959 and 1985 Acts to street prostitution and ‘kerb crawling’. Although prostitution is not in itself an offence there are a wide range of sanctions for those who seek to encourage or exploit it.

( ‘Paying the Price’,2004)


Appendix 3: MSWOP Statistics 2007





The above statistics represent thirty-five services users the Male Sex Worker’s Project ( MSWOP) has worked with over the last two years. Through one to one work with service users, MSWOP has been able to establish how the young men begun sex work, and a what age they were groomed into sex work. Sex for sale is readily available in Manchester’s Gay village; and half their services users were groomed in this area.



Appendix 4: Annex C of ‘Paying the Price’ 2004

Table 1: As laid out in Annex C of ‘Paying the Price’ 2004

Key Statistics


Age of first involvement in prostitution



Appendix 5: Consent Form

Male sex Interview work a ‘Hidden Population’

Implications of policy in working with street based male sex workers in Manchester

I agree to participate in this research project being conducted by Judith Vickers for her BA Social work degree. I understand the study is to explore how the impact of legislation, affects male sex workers in Manchester. Focusing on issues of sexuality, risk and vulnerability, also the different ways that men sell sex to men. looking at how this is regulated and controlled.

I understand that the information I give during the interview, and names given will be kept anonymous and confidential to the researcher unless, it is judged that confidentiality will have to be breached for the safety of the participant or others.

In signing this form, I do/do not* consent to the interview being transcribed. I further understand that anonymised extracts from this interview may be incorporated in reports and papers. The researcher offers her reassurance that interview materials will be used appropriately and that no material will be used in a manner that causes distress or danger to any participant.

I understand that my participation in the study is entirely voluntary and that if I wish to withdraw from the study, I may do so at anytime without giving any reason or explanation for doing so.

I have read and understand this information and I agree to take part in the study.

* Please delete as appropriate

Signed: …………………………

Name (please print): ………………………….

Date: …………………………..


Appendix 6: Research Questionaire

Conducted by Judith Vickers

BA hons 2008


1. How long have you been working in Manchester?

  • How would you describe your job role?
  • Is your agency statutory funded or a charity?
  • What age group do you work with?
  • Do you receive training and supervision from your employer?


2. Do you work with male and female sex workers?

  • How long have you worked with only male/female?
  • In your opinion w hat are the difference in services available in Manchester for sex workers.
  • Do you feel that they are inclusive to the true diversity of sex workers in Manchester?
  • What is one of the main differences in these client groups?


3. In your opinion what would be the main gateways into men selling sex to men on a street-based level?

  • What are the main risks and issues of this client group?
  • What approach to intervention does your organisation take?
  • How long has your organisation worked with MSM ?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you work in partnership with any other agencies?


4. In your professional opinion what age do MSM enter sex work?

  • How much do Socio-economic factors play in this?
  • What are the trigger signs you would identify, if a young person was suspected of involvement in sex working/exploitation.
  • Where are the main areas or spaces that MSM in Manchester?
  • Have your clients experienced violence while working on the streets of Manchester? Moreover, by whom?


5. In your professional opinion do you think ASBO’S would work as a measure to control street-based prostitution?




Academe. See Academy; A chartered corporation of scholar’s artists, men of letters and science. ( Oxford, Dictionary, 2002).

Agency. Purposeful action. This term implies that actors have the freedom to create, change and influence events. (Bilton, T. et al 2002)

Alienation. Originally utilised by Marx to describe the feeling of estrangement experienced by workers under industrial capitalism. Now more generally employed to describe people’s feelings of isolation, powerless and self- estrangement. ( Bilton, T. et al 2002).

Care management. In community care the term encompasses the process of assessment, provision of services and review or reassessment. ( Brammer, A, 2007).

Class. A term widely used in sociology to differentiate between sections of the population. It is based on economic considerations such as wealth or income. ( Bilton, al. 2002).

Common-sense Knowledge. Shutz’s term for the practical social knowledge that we take for granted as the basis for everyday actions. (Bilton, T. et. al.2002).

Communitarianism. Echoing Durkenheimian thinking a political philosophy of the 1990’s that stressed the importance of community and shared values for social order and stability. (Bilton, T. et al. 2002).

Compulsory heterosexuality. This concept implies that heterosexuality is not necessarily the natural form of sexual preference but is characterised by a conflict of interests between the advantaged and the disadvantaged. (Bilton, al. 2002)

Consumerism. A culture based on the promotion, sale and acquisition of consumer goods. (Bilton, al. 2002).

Content analysis. Analysis of the content of communications; usually refers to documentary or visual material. (Bilton, 2002).

Criminology. The systematic study of crime and criminals. (Oxford, Dictionary.2002).

Cultural deprivation. An approach that claims that lifestyle choices determine ill-health. It offers an explanation of the greater incidence of ill-health among working-class people by directly relating it to factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and diet. (Bilton, T. et al. 2002).

Cultural imperialism. The Aggressive promotion of Western culture based on the assumption that it is superior and preferable to non-Western cultures. (Bilton, 2002).

Deconstruct. To analyse texts in order to grasp their implicit meaning by exposing their underlying assumptions. ( Bilton, 2002).

Demographic age profile. The size and structure of the population based on age. (Bilton, al.2002).

Deviance amplification. A spiralling sequence of interaction between deviants and those reacting to their behaviour (typically agents of control, such as the police), which generates further deviance and therefore further punitive response. (Bilton,T. 2002).

Discourse. A body of ideas, concepts and beliefs that have become established as knowledge or as an accepted world-view. These ideas provide a powerful framework for understanding and action in social life. (Bilton, al. 2002).

Double standard of sexual morality. The assumption that promiscuous or sexually assertive behaviours are to be expected or admired in men, but that the same behaviours are deviant in women. For example, there is no male equivalent of the term ‘slag’. ( Bilton, T.etal.2002).

Epidemiology. The study of patterns of disease within populations to analyse the incidence and spread of that disease, with the aim of establishing casualty. ( Oxford Dictionary. 1998).

Power. A Discretion to act, often expressed as something which may be done. (Brammer, A.2007).

Essentialism. An approach that assumes some universal feature that identifies the phenomenon under study. Essentialist approaches to gender assume that all women share traits in common, as do all men. (Bilton,

Ethnicity. While the term ‘race’ emphasises biological differences based on skin colour, ethnicity denotes the sense of belonging to a particular community whose members share common cultural traditions. ( Bilton,

Ethnocentric. The description of the inability to understand the validity or integrity of cultures other than one’s own. ( Bilton,T.etal.2002).

Existentialism. A philosophy that espouses free will and responsibility for one’s own actions. ( Bilton,

Gender. Refers to the socially constructed categories of masculine and feminine that are differently defined in various cultures and the socially imposed attributes and behaviours that are assigned to them. ( Bilton,

Gendering. The process of differentiation and division according to gender. ( Bilton,

Generalised other. Expectations of general conduct in a social group; what is expected of you. (Bilton,

Globalisation. The process whereby political, social, economic and cultural relations increasingly take on a global scale, and which has profound consequences for individuals’ local experiences and everyday lives. (Bilton,

Holistic. Involving a focus on the whole rather than on specific parts or aspects. (Bilton,

Homophobia. Hatred or fear of homosexuals (including lesbians). (Bilton,

Hypothesis. A set of ideas or a speculative theory about a given state of affairs that is to be subjected to empirical testing. ( Bilton,

Identity politics. A political agenda based on shared experiences and forms of self-expression (see person is political). ( Bilton, et,al. 2002).

Ideology. A set of ideas and beliefs about reality and society which underpin social and political action. Ideologies are often used to justify and sustain the position and interests of powerful social groups. (Bilton,T, et,al. 2002).

Imperialism. Common form of Western colonial rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Characteristic by the extension of the power of the state through the acquisition, normally by force, of distant territories. (See colonialism). (Bilton, T, et, al. 2002).

Indexical. From ethnomethodology, the claim that meanings can only be gained in the context of their social setting. (Bilton, T,et,al. 2002).

Individualism. A doctrine or way of thinking that focuses on the autonomous individual rather than on the attributes of the group. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Institutional racism. The unwitting reproduction of racism by institutions. Implicit, taken-for-granted racism. ( Bilton, T,et,al. 2002).

Labelling. Describes the process where socially defined identities are imposed or adopted, especially deviant identities. Such labels can result in the individual being trapped in that identity. (See stigmatise). (Bilton, T,et,al. 2002).

Life-course. This term encompasses the diversity of experience and difference that people encounter during the course of their lives. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Macro-level. A level of sociological analysis which focuses either on large collectivities and institutions or social systems and social structures (see structures). (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Marginalisation. The process whereby specific population groups are excluded from mainstream activities because of lack of income, cultural bias and so on. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Masculinities. Various socially constructed sets of assumptions, expectations and ways of behaving that are associated with and assigned to men in a particular culture. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Moral consensus. Desire for and agreement upon a set of prescribed moral values. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Multi-culturalism. An approach that acknowledges and accommodates a variety of cultural practices and traditions. ( Bilton,T,et,al.2002).

Neo-liberalism. A form of right-wing philosophy associated with Thatcherism and laissez-faire liberalism.

New racism. Racism based on ideas of cultural difference rather than on claims to biological superiority. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Norms. Socially accepted ‘correct’ or ‘proper’ forms of behaviour. Norms either prescribe given types of behaviour or forbid them. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Objectivity. An approach to knowledge acquisition that claims to be unbiased, impersonal and free from prejudice. Commonly associated with positivism. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Patriarchal. Used to describe a system that perpetrates the dominance of senior men over all women and junior men. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Patriarchy. A term used by feminists to refer to an overarching system of male dominance, often involving the dominance of senior men over junior men as well as over women. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Postmodernism. Often perceived as a cultural phenomenon associated with contemporary arts, it combines apparently opposing elements to subvert meaning and fragments totality. It is characterised by a pastiche of cultural styles and elements, but implies a deep scepticism about order and progress. Instead, diversity and fragmentation are celebrated. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Postmodernity. For its supporters, the transformation of social, cultural, economic and political arrangements that has taken society beyond modernity. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Risk. A term encapsulating the distinctiveness of people’s experiences of danger in late modernity. Awareness of risk can undermine our confidence in abstract systems of knowledge, expertise and social organisation. (Bilton, Tet, al.2002).

Self-fulfilling prophecy. The situation where social actors construct their self-image from the reactions of powerful and persuasive others, thereby acting out or living up to the characteristics attributed to them, thus confirming the original evaluation. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Sex/gender distinction. Early feminists sociologists, made a distinction between sex (the universal biological division between male and female) and gender (the social and cultural meanings that are attached to this distinction). Later theorists questioned whether there is anything outside the cultural construction of gender. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Sex work.– sex work encompasses many acts and people, and the ‘sex’ ( as work or labour) which is exchanged for money is not always about male penetration, ‘high-risk activity’ or the invasion of a passive female body’. (Murray 1995, p68). It is impossible to give an exact meaning of the term ‘sex work’, or give a global definition as to what it means, because in practice it is incredibly varied although it has been described as erotic labour.

Social action. A perspective that usually concentrates on the micro-level of social life, in order to show how human interpretation, arising out of the interaction with others, gives rise to social action. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Social construction. The process whereby natural, instinctive forms of behaviour come to be mediated by social process. Sociologists would argue that most forms of human behaviour are socially constructed. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Social exclusion. The ways in which people are marginalised from society by having limited or no access to public services, and little participation in education and the political process. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Social integration. The unification of diverse groups of people in a community. (Bilton, T, et, al, 2002).

Social/class reproduction. The process by which, over time, groups of people, notably social classes reproduce their social structures and patterns. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Status. Prestige or social standing in the eyes of others. A term particularly associated with Weber. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Stigmatisation. The process in which social behaviour or an attribute becomes subject to social disapproval and is discredited, resulting in spoiled identity in the eyes of others and possible exclusion from normal social interaction. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Structures. Refers generally to constructed frameworks and parents of organisation that serve to constrain or direct human behaviour. (Bilton, T, et, al. 2002).

Subculture. The set of values, behaviour and attributes of a particular group of people who are distinct from but related to the dominant culture in society. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Traffic in persons has been defined as: ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation’. Home Office

Trafficking.- The recruitment , transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation is considered trafficking , regardless of whether or not force, abduction, fraud and other means are employed. Home Office.

Underclass. A contested concept which describes those at the bottom of the social hierarchy who are economically, politically and socially marginalised from the rest of society. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Values. Ideals and beliefs regarded as important by a society or social group. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Vertical gender segregation. The separation of men and women into higher or lower grades within the same occupation. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).

Welfare state. A system of government where the state is responsible for providing its citizens with a wide range of welfare benefits. (Bilton, T, et, al.2002).




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