HIGH rents and food costs are pushing foreign students into prostitution in Cork city.
That is according to the Sexual Health Centre in Cork city, which has noticed an increase in the past year in the number of English language students turning to sex work to fund their life here.
Centre manager Catherine Kennedy said: “Students coming into Ireland to learn English are turning to sex work because of financial need.”
She said rising rents, food and personal hygiene products are among the costs which English language students are finding difficult to meet, prompting them to turn to offer sex for sale.
She said the trend has emerged in the past 10 months.
And she said: “It is escalating.” Ms Kennedy added that violence against transexual prostitutes is an area which is increasing in the past year and she acknowledged that “there is an always a general undercurrent” of threats of violence against workers in the sex industry.
The centre offers a number of services to sex workers, including a regular meeting of sex workers in conjunction with the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland group. Ms Kennedy said the meetings offer those in the industry an opportunity to compare pricing and update each other on any threats or violent incidents against sex workers locally.
It also provides an opportunity for sex workers to avail of free rapid HIV testing.
There are up to 100 women and transexual sex workers operating daily in the city and in county towns, according to a website set up for sex workers to advertise.
Male escorts are rare on the site, although there are advertisements by male, female and trans prostitutes on other lesser-known sites.
Some of those advertising on the more well-known site arrive in Cork for just one day, while others are here for up to a week at a time.