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Brothels safer place to work, former prostitute tells students

Students who are engaging in sex work would be better protected if they worked in brothels, former Canberra sex worker Nikki Stern says.

Students who are engaging in sex work would be better protected if they worked in brothels, former Canberra sex worker Nikki Stern says. Photo: Janie Barrett

Students, or ''sugar babies'', who do sex work should be working in brothels rather than relying on online prostitution organisations, a former Canberra sex worker says.

The Sunday Canberra Times reported hundreds of ACT university students are receiving gifts and having their tuition fees and rent paid by so-called ''sugar daddies'' whom they have found online.

About 200 students at the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the Canberra Institute of Technology and the Australian Catholic University are members of a website that matches millionaires with young women, it was reported.

A former prostitute and the star of the erotic film franchise The Horny Housewife, Nikki Stern, says that Gen Y students who are engaging in what she calls ''sugar-coated prostitution'' would be better protected if they worked in brothels.

''Canberra is not a cheap place to live, so sex work is a very practical solution to their problem if they're OK with it, are in control and know what they are doing,'' Ms Stern said.

''It would be safer to work in a brothel. If they're prepared to do this sort of work - if they've crossed that line anyway - then I would recommend they go and work in brothels, as it is legalised and there are other women around in the same situation.

''It's just far safer; you've probably got security. They [the clients] don't contact you directly, they're removed from you, you use a fake name. There's all sort of protections in place,'' she said.

Ms Stern, who has written a book about her experiences in the sex industry, Not Your Ordinary Housewife, said most of her colleagues at a Canberra brothel in the 1990s were struggling students.

''The students who I knew were prostitutes were not getting any great luxury from it. They weren't doing this type of work to buy fancy clothes. It was more of a necessity to just pay the rent, that kind of thing, whereas these women today seem to be doing it for the non-essential items of life, like holidays and gadgets,'' she said.

Exchanging sexual favours for HECS payments is nothing new, however Ms Stern said the fact that it is continuing is a worrying insight into tertiary education.

''It's sad that education funding is still so poor that women feel the need to do this to get through their university studies. However, it doesn't sound like it's a survival thing any more. Maybe they have come from fairly good homes, become accustomed to a nice lifestyle and have been a little bit spoiled, then they realise it's a bit harder to make ends meet when they are studying,'' she said.

Eros Foundation co-ordinator and spokesman for the national adult industry group, Robbie Swan, said a number of single sex workers are well-educated and come from privileged backgrounds. ''There is no doubt that there are girls from private, elite schools working in the sex industry,'' he said.

36 comments

  • What about the male students? What are their options? Can't these women think of any other way to make money except on their backs?

    Commenter
    peter
    Location
    vietnam
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 12:35AM
    • So you want to control how women make a buck? Free country isnt it? I doubt you want to police what young women do in their houses 24/7.

      Commenter
      jg
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 8:21AM
    • I work with a lot of foreign students.

      The male foreign students make $10 an hour cash in hand as cleaners. No other choices.

      The female foreign students can make $10 an hour cash in hand as cleaners, or $200 an hour doing something else. And work much shorter hours, as a result.

      So don't tell me that females have less choices than males.

      Commenter
      enno
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 11:57AM
    • i agree Peter - what choice do males have in this situation? especially if they are straight - not many avenues for males to be prossies are there? and jg get a grip - this is not about policing what women do - its about according the same rights to males as well. i knew of so many girls whilst i was at the ANU who were either getting paid for sex or getting academic 'assistance' for sex its not funny - but not many males. does this say something?

      Commenter
      nonPSvoiceofreason
      Location
      barton
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 12:19PM
    • Actually, male students can and have been leasing out their physical assets for payment but its a much more insidious industry because no one really knows or talks about it, unlike female prostitution.
      Its strange that there is so much vitriol against women in such unenviable roles even then, almost as though she is despised for "having more options" as a gloss over than an actual rational analysis on the quality of these options.
      You think that the majority of women would put themselves into such undignified jobs? There are plenty of women who do NOT consider this as an option, much as perhaps a man with the option to sell himself to interested parties (mostly would be other men, not women) or perhaps sell drugs (again, it IS an option), and work side-by-side with these men doing menial $10 an hour jobs.
      Why have you not considered this? Stop the blind hate and use some rationality and compassion for others for a change.

      Commenter
      Green Tea
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 12:26PM
    • It's their choice peter and if they enjoy that type of work that's fine. I worked at a supermarket part time as a student and worked full time in the summer to fund my studies (25-30k/year is quite comfortable), so I agree it's so very wrong to say there's no alternative. I know many people who went through Uni without prostitution and did it comfortably. I think for the physical risk and the effect it would have on personal relationships it's not worth earning in this way, particularly with the variety of other ways to earn decent money in this country.

      Commenter
      Mick
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 1:00PM
    • Green Tea, you're bordering on the hysterical. Not one person here has indicted the whole, or even close to the majority of the female gender.

      In Canberra, as in most places in Australia, prostitution, including "sugar babies", is not the domain of the poor, huddle masses. Look at Stern's comments, ones made from someone who's been on the inside - a great number of these young women today resort to prostitution to fund more extravagant lifestyles. Why should I feel (general) compassion about a local industry that is portrayed as the ultimate female victim factory when, in fact, it is hugely profitable for women entering it entirely voluntarily?

      Commenter
      politically-incorrect
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 1:42PM
    • @politically-incorrect,

      I hardly think my insinuations are any form of borderline hysteria.

      On the contrary, Stern's observations are not based on any formal or even informal research - it is merely an anecdote. Again, that anecdote claims that a segment of those engaging in prostitution are 'sugar-babies' who are doing it for material luxury, not based on any kind of quantitative/qualitative research.

      Personally, when it comes to prostitution, I dislike it - I find it distasteful. But I do not think a person deserves to be at the forefront of any kind of violence because of their personal choices - more specifically, the same way we provide anonymous syringe disposal and services for drug addicts, which doesn't mean we agree with drug users' activities, we should also ensure that we extend the same compassion to others.

      It would be good to practice some objectivity in the matter when the article suggests that these women might be vulnerable running independently and are better off in a brothel because it is safer. It is not saying we should donate tithes to their bank accounts because they can't afford this season's Prada, or that we should start pitying and victimising them.

      I find it alarming you use the concept of 'sugar-babies' as a reason to completely disregard an industry that not only is named as one of the destinations of sex trafficking through debt-bondage and servitude, but aren't completely made out of women happy to spread their legs for hundreds of men to purchase a 60" television and sound system.

      Commenter
      Green Tea
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 3:22PM
  • Well, um, yeah, but the "millionaires" who are prepared to pay through the nose to date young women, don't necessarily want to go to a brothel.

    Commenter
    enno
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 2:32AM
    • What a crock - its been well publicised over time that the majority of workers in Canberra brothels in the 90s were there to support expensive drug habits. Students do not need to do this, particularly vulnerable 18 year olds. There is always work available in Canberra on a casual basis. Tens of thousands have done retail and hospitality to work to put themselves through education, without the need to indulge in the seamiest side of life in the capital. I suppose this is an attempt to 'normalise' the profession? Instead, it is normalising yet again, that degradation of women is ok.

      Commenter
      VanessaJ
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 7:04AM

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