LONDON, ENGLAND - Who are the key players in Britain's 21st-century sex industry? "Not me," you're thinking. But the term "sex industry" is a catch-all for such a multifarious collection of sex-associated objects and activities, that there is scarcely an adult in Britain whose life it doesn't touch in some way.
The sex industry encompasses anything that joins sex and commerce, be that a plastic toy bought from Ann Summers, a copy of Playboy, dialling a premium-rate number for phone sex, or paying a tenner for a hand job down a back alley, not to mention erotic fiction, porn films, stag-night strippers and lap-dancing clubs.
In terms of prostitution, the stories we tend to hear are the most tragic – such as the murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006; a horrific story, but a quantum leap, thank God, from the experiences of most women who sell their bodies for a living – from those working in saunas, massage parlours and brothels to escorts and companions who can earn six-figure incomes.
One in 10 British men has visited a prostitute. Yes, that's 10 per cent. And who is servicing them? Around 80,000 sex workers, a figure that is said to include 4,000 women and children trafficked into the country to work as sex slaves. Our laws on paid sex, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith declared, are long overdue for a rethink...
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