Women who Buy Sexual Services in the UK

Are you a woman who buys sex? Do you pay for the services of a male or female escort with your partner?

Do you sell sexual services to women?

If you are a male or female sex worker who sells sex to women or couples, we want to hear from you!

    Help us with our research

    What are we studying?

    This study seeks to find out more about women’s experiences of buying sexual services in the United Kingdom.



    This study seeks to find out more about women’s experiences of buying sexual services in the United Kingdom (UK); what they buy, their reasons for buying sex, how they negotiate their physical and sexual safety and how their experiences feed into current policy debates. Previous research has documented how female sex buyers travel to destinations such as the Caribbean and Asia to purchase sex. Yet there is little research on women who buy sex in the UK, despite recent research on male clients.

    This study seeks to explore motivations and characteristics of women who purchase sex, who and where they buy sex from and to explore how physical and sexual safety are negotiated. This exploratory study will involve interviewing male and/or female escorts who sell sex to women, as well as interviews with female clients in the UK. Participants will be recruited via online escort agencies, online network sites for clients, local contacts with charities, and support agencies and through the researchers’ previous sex work contacts. The findings will contribute to growing an empirically grounded UK sex work research base and consider the place of female sex buyers in UK policy debates, which have increasingly targeted clients.

    1) What motivates women to pay for sex?

    2) What are women’s experiences of paying for sex?

    3) How do female sex buyers negotiate sexual and physical health and safety?

    4) How does UK policy enhance or constrain female clients’ physical/sexual health and safety?

    What’s the research about?

    This study is about exploring women’s experiences of buying sexual services in the UK. We know very little about women who buy sexual services, despite the existence of online escort sites, strip clubs that cater for women, and international research that shows that women buy sex. We want to know more about female clients from both women who buy sexual services themselves or as a couple, and from men or women who sell sexual services to female clients.

    Some of our key questions include:

    Why should I get involved?

    We believe this is an important study for a number of reasons:

    Challenge Policy

    UK prostitution policy and policing is inherently gendered, overlooking female sex buyers.

    Greater Understanding

    We know little about whether women buy sex in the UK, what they buy, how they buy it, when in their lives, who from and what it means to their lives.

    Female Opinion

    Prostitution is often seen as “violence against women” and recent policy debates make these links, but can this/does this apply to women who buy sex, and what do women who buy sex think about these suggestions?

    Charity Support

    The study has support from local sex work charities/services including Genesis Leeds and MASH, Manchester.

    Needed and Important

    The study has been funded jointly by The British Academy and The Leverhulme Trust, which we believe is recognition that this study is needed and is important.

    As a research team we are also interested to hear from those who sell or buy sex. We have previous experience of conducting research into the sex industry, from a sex worker, client and community standpoint.

    What will being involved entail?


    If you are interested in being involved in this study please either email us, or contact us via Twitter or Facebook.

    Involvement in the research will include an interview with a member of the research team, either face-to-face, over the telephone, via email, Skype or instant messenger. This interview would be recorded with your consent, and then transcribed. You will be able to give yourself a fake name to protect your anonymity, and you will be given a copy of the interview transcript to review.

    Involvement is CONFIDENTIAL and you can remain ANONYMOUS. The study has gained ethical approval and we have very strict ethical protocols in place to protect your privacy.

    You will be able to withdraw at any time, and any material will be destroyed.

    Our Research Team

    Dr Sarah Kingston

    Principal Investigator

    Sarah is a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Lancaster. Her research interests focus around sex work/prostitution policy and law, sex worker/client/community perspectives. She is a member of the UK Network of Sex Work Projects and volunteers for Genesis in Leeds and StreetLink in Preston as an outreach worker. He recent books include “Prostitution in the Community: Attitudes, Action and Resistance” (Routledge, 2013) and “New Sociologies of Sex Work” (Ashgate, 2010).

    Dr Natalie Hammond

    Co-Principal Investigator

    Natalie is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests focus around sexuality, gender, bodies and health. She has conducted research previously with men who pay for sex with women. She is a member of ProsPol a European wide network comparing prostitution policy. She is a member of the Morgan Centre for Personal Life at the University of Manchester. Natalie is guest editor alongside, Prof. Feona Attwood (University of Middlesex) of a themed section of the Journal Social Policy and Society, which takes a cultural studies approach to sex work policy.

    Scarlett Redman

    Research Associate

    Scarlett is Research Associate on this project. She has previously conducted research addressing the experiences of female escorts, as well as partners of sex workers. More recent work examines and compares experiences of heterosexual male and female escorts.


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