By Elisa O’Donovan
Students across Ireland are having to resort to prostitution in order to pay their way through college.
“19 year old Waterford student, tall attractive, badly in need of a few quid”; “Open minded, young sociology student looking for fun”.
Adverts such as these are now common among the booming business of escort agencies in Ireland – a business that is thriving on the financial insecurities of young female and male students.
It is becoming increasingly more expensive for students to further their education in Ireland. With many students unable to afford decent accommodation or even books for their course, and with agencies such as Escort Ireland network offering students ?135 an hour it is not difficult to see why students are being reduced to selling their bodies in order to afford a decent standard of living. One agency, D4 escort agency, even boasts “many of our ladies are students or recent graduates”.
The lack of any decent affordable accommodation for students reached crisis point this summer with some students having to resort to sleeping on the streets . The maximum higher education grant stands at ?3,420 yet students living in Dublin can expect to pay ?500 a month on accommodation costs alone. With the maximum grant hardly covering living expenses let alone money for food, books, lab equipment etc. students are forced to work low paid inflexible jobs which badly affect their studies. The governments inaction on students plight has only pushed students to desperate measures such as prostitution to see them through their course. The student support bill which was to offer a definite schedule for reform of the grants system is now 6 months overdue.
There is no doubt that the gradual glamorisation of the so-called “sex industry” has had an impact on the attitudes of some students towards prostitution. Escort agencies promise glamour by showing pictures of models in luxury hotels with expensive underwear however the reality is very different. A large majority of prostitutes experience violence including rape, at the hands of men who pay for sex.
When asked about the increasing number of students having to turn to prostitution to pay their way through college, Education Minister, Mary Hannafin ,said she was “appalled” at the situation.
But the government is responsible for this scandal. USI should take on the government and mobilise students nationally in a campaign for a living grant for all students.