On-street sex working women are one of the most marginalised and overlooked groups in the homeless population. Across the UK there are some, but not many, services that exists with specialist support to meet this group’s needs. There is little specialist accommodation suitable for their needs, and it can be tricky to understand the nature and scale of the problem in your own area.
While on the surface it’s easy to perceive these women’s biggest barrier in life to be prostitution, many of the women Rahab interacts with regularly would relate it to their homelessness, substance addiction, and lifestyle choices characterised by poverty and desperation. Many of the women we meet on the streets as sex workers feel they have no other option.
For some of these women, their homelessness looks like:
- sleeping in car parks or stairwells,
- at a friend’s place,
- finding a client who will provide them somewhere to stay in exchange for their sexual services.
For women who are in on-street prostitution, street homelessness has consequences such as serious health problems, early mortality, violence, rape, and mental illnesses.
Until their housing, social support, and employment opportunities are broadened, the women Rahab works alongside are likely to remain stuck in the cycle of poverty, abuse, addiction and homelessness, and continue experiencing prostitution.Find out ways you can help Rahab to support these women in Reading here.