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Okay, not really, it's for my own curiosity. Obviously, there's Soho, and King's Cross was famous for it, though not now after the regeneration? It turns out Queen's Drive in N4, where I lived for four years, was a somewhat 'classic' area; hence all the 'traffic calming' gates in that area. So where do the girls work now? Really, I swearit's just out of curiosity.


Ending the criminalisation of soliciting for sex in England and Wales could lead to one of the most tectonic shifts in how prostitution is seen in society since it was first made illegal nearly years ago.

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But what is it like to sell your body for sex in London? On Friday a cross-party group of senior MPs called for soliciting by sex workers to be decriminalised in what would be radical changes to the laws on prostitution.

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This will most likely be welcome news to London's estimated 32, sex workers who, charities say, are less safe as a result of the criminalisation of their trade. Jenny Medcalf says she started selling sex in when an ex-boyfriend suggested it.

At the time she was working as an actuary, struggling to keep up with the childcare costs for her three children and mortgage payments on her house in Surbiton. The Durham University graduate says after a difficult marriage and a string of "not so great" boyfriends, she wound up with a different boyfriend who got her into BDSM - an abbreviation for bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism. Her ex initially organised the bookings and was present for her first punter, she says. The graduate says she advertised online and would visit men in hotels or their houses.

Soho walk-up

I was really thin with cropped hair, completely flat-chested and quite boyish but I was offering a BDSM service. A recovering alcoholic, Jenny says she used drugs to disassociate herself from the emotional and physical toll the job took on her.

After five years working in the industry, there was one moment when she knew she wanted out.

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I swore at him, shouting. I never saw him again, although he wanted to see me. It was a turning point. She says the idea she was in control had "gone completely" and at that stage, she hated herself. The situation became untenable when, unable to face opening her post, she slipped behind on mortgage payments and lost her house - along with her three children, her cats and all of her possessions.

After attempting to kill herself, using drugs and turning to drink again, Jenny met the man who went on to become her husband, whose patience she says helped to give her the strength to transform. One morning during her recovery, she woke up and a "light bulb" went off in her head that she wanted to work with sex workers with addictions. She started volunteering at the Spires charity in Tooting and is now one of the charity's most prominent workers. She goes out on to the street at night to find and help people - largely women - who are working as prostitutes.

She offers them warm clothing, sweets, crisps, condoms - and support. Jenny and Street hookers in london colleagues visit the sex workers, sometimes in hospital, or prison, often in the middle of the night. They are me, but they are still in it. Out of the core women known to the charity, seven exited the profession in and 10 in However, selling sex can also be a positive thing, according to one Londoner in her 30s who works privately in a centrally-located flat.

Alice not her real namely a project manager for a large government organisation, started selling sex seven years ago. A friend introduced her to an escorting website when she was "short on cash", she says.

Met police urged to crack down on prostitution on this east london street

She sells sex to men, women and couples, along with elderly and disabled people. Intimacy and "skin on skin" contact is a "natural, biological way to make us feel good", she says. After having had a middle-class upbringing, she says when she first started the work was a "revelation". Her friends, most of her family and her partner, who she describes as the love of her life, know about her work and "completely accept it", although they were worried about her safety at first. She says she has never been subject to violence but has occasionally been harassed by clients who became overly emotionally attached.

While the stigma of the work can make it difficult, she says, her clients are "nice, ordinary people". Alice's and Jenny's stories are played out on a larger scale across the country. Alex Feis-Bryce, director of services at the NUM foundation, says that rise has, in part, been caused by cuts in recent years to public sector jobs and charities.

People are attracted to the flexibility of the work, he says.

What is it like selling sex in london?

Forty-five per cent of the contributors to the survey, which ran between November and Januarysold sex alongside holding down another job. Alex says these workers are often blackmailed by people taking advantage of their situation and the need to remain anonymous - threatening to tell partners or employers. Shrinking funding for services helping sex workers meant the situation was pretty "grim", he adds.

Of course, sex is still sold on the streets of the capital. Women selling sex on the street are more likely to look like a friend, an Street hookers in london or a mother - they tend to be wrapped up warm, as standing on a street all night is cold - and wearing comfortable shoes, not the killer heels often seen in the media. Met Police commander Christine Jones says she often finds women working within the sex trade are there as a result of coercion, a lack of choices, and vulnerability. She says she tries to put the care of women at the "heart of everything", as it is the punters who create the demand and bring violence and anti-social behaviour to communities.

She says targeting people who exploit women and buy sex is "at the top" of the Met's agenda - rather than taking the women into custody. But the story on the ground is perhaps not so cut and dried, according to Laura Watson, a spokesperson for the English Collective of Street hookers in london.

Laura says she hasn't seen police moving away from targeting sex workers. She says the women she works with "do not trust" the police to look after them once they report a violent crime. Some have been threatened with arrest when they do so, Laura adds. And in reality, targeting the punter rather than the worker has a similar "detrimental impact" to sex workers' safety as they are forced underground, she says. Laura adds: "Women are more likely to go into different areas they don't know just to pick up clients, or their negotiating time could drop as the client is worrying about being caught so all of the safety measures are diminished.

She says most of the women are mothers and so can't afford to stop working. And the of people turning to prostitution has increased since the recession, due to benefit sanctions and job cuts, she says. This means women who were once sex workers are returning to the profession. Another facet of criminalisation means women struggle to find other work, Laura adds, so it is harder to leave should they choose.

Where are the 'prostitute areas' in london now? asking for a friend.

Whether or not the MPs' recommendations make it into legislation remains to be seen - and any such move would almost certainly be reserved for a calmer period in UK politics. Although some, like Alice, are able to make prostitution work to their advantage, many struggle with the reality of making a living out of something so intimate. Sex workers speak on sex laws. The city that allows women to sell sex. Decriminalise 'sex work', says Corbyn.

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Minamonfilm - Home. Image source, Richard Mutton. Image source, Getty Images. Image source, Thinkstock. Image source, Met Police. They are not likely to be heavily made-up.

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Image source, Minamon. Related Topics. More on this story.

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Published 21 October Published 12 April Published 4 March Around the BBC. Related Internet Links. Home - Spires.

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A Soho walk-up is a flat in Soho , London , United Kingdom , that is used by a female sex worker for the purposes of prostitution.


Residents have raised concerns about the safety of sex workers in the area.


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Swansea once had a bustling high street boasting luxury boutique stores and packed pubs as the city fought to become UK City of Culture.