Sex for rent: The harsh reality of a broken housing market
As the Housing Woman Cymru campaign to end sex for rent. Katie from Merthyr Valleys Homes tell us the story of the sickening practice of people offering free rent in exchange for sex or sexual acts.
As the Housing Women Cymru campaign to end Sex for Rent has shown, the sickening practice of people offering free rent in exchange for sex or sexual acts is a real issue in Wales. The issue has been highlighted over the last year through the increase of disgusting adverts appearing online blatantly offering this sort of ‘arrangement’, targeting peoples vulnerabilities. The fact is that disadvantaged people are being sexually exploited by predatory individuals who have the luxury of a having a roof over their heads, it is completely abhorrent and ILLEGAL.
There is a specific, unique danger in the proposition made in these adverts. It is that people are being asked to enter a home which is completely controlled by someone else: a person who always has the right to be there, who can say who else can enter the property and a person who they are entirely dependent on for a roof over their head. It is an issue of power imbalance, where the home owner is holding all of the cards. Those entering these arrangements do not have a choice of affordable housing, to them it is this ‘arrangement’ or life on the streets.
From monitoring the adverts online, it would seem that young women and young gay men are often targeted by the adverts; however Shelter Cymru’s research tells how 3% of women private tenants and 2% of male private tenants in Wales have been offered sex for rent by a landlord within the last five years. This suggests there could be around 6,900 women and 4,600 men who have been offered sex for rent in Wales in the last five years.
Only last week a programme aired on ITV called the Kyle Files and it showed predators meeting young women in bars who they thought were struggling to find affordable accommodation and actually stating things such as ‘I just want sex once or twice a week, I do want to take advantage of you, you know, but I wont abuse you.’ What is the hellish world that are we living in when this is ever anyone’s only housing option!
We need to empower the people who have or are still experiencing this abuse and ensure they are aware of their rights.
The campaign was started to raise awareness of the issue.
Sex for rent would not exist in a functioning and moral housing market. These shameful adverts have exposed the consequence of a broken housing policy.
This is a housing issue and as a sector we need to be the driving force behind ending sex for rent in Wales. However we cannot achieve this entirely on our own, and there are no simple quick fixes. We need to work collaboratively with the police, local authorities, support services and the welsh Government.
The campaign has deliberately targeted these organisations to ensure we are tackling the root causes of this abhorrent issue as well as supporting those living this terrible reality now.
People are often quick to comment on the practice that ‘it’s been going on for years’ and although we acknowledge this it certainly doesn’t mean we should continue to ignore it.