Research Into Purchasing Sex Abroad

Leicester University Research Commercial Sex Abroad

Our colleagues here at the University of Leicester are conducting research into purchasing commercial sex whilst travelling abroad. Dr. Lahav-Raz has been in touch with the following.

Hi, my name is Dr Yeela Lahav-Raz. I’m a sociologist from the University of Leicester, UK. I’m researching sex work regulations and politics. You are being invited to participate in a research study about purchasing commercial sex while travelling abroad. The purpose of this research study is to learn and expand knowledge about Internet-based sex markets, especially in the Middle East. It will take you approximately 10-15 minutes to complete the survey. You can withdraw at any time, and you are free to omit any questions regarding the purchase of commercial sex. Your results are anonymous, and no identifying information is collected, including no IP addresses.

You can take part in the research by completing the online (anonymous) survey here:




New Publication

The research team at BtG have an inclusion in the Routledge International Handbook of SexImage result for international book of sex industry research Industry research. The chapter is entitled Technology mediated sex work: fluidity, networking & regulation in the UK.

This chapter draws on findings from the Beyond the Gaze (BtG) research project, the largest UK study to date of the working practices, safety and regulation of the online sex markets. BtG has produced some significant data sets which shed light on the characteristics and regulation of contemporary sex work, particularly for independent escorts and webcammers.

The chapter explores the changing shape of the online sex industry and looks at digital technology and its shaping of the industry. Drawing on BtG research the chapter suggests that the online world is a platform for workers to unify and manage safety, to a degree. It also look sat how policing of the online sector is in its infancy.

The chapter is another way to share some of the BtG findings and ensures that the research does not disappear into the ether, as so many research findings do. This is in addition to the more hands-on sharing that is continuing with BtG and National Ugly Mugs. More coming soon on the developments of community-impact dissemination.

Matt Valentine-Chase, BtG Webmaster and former researcher for BtG.

Beyond the Gaze – in Mandarin

Safety for sex workers Mandarin

We are very excited and pleased to announce that the safety and privacy ‘quick look’ cards have been translated into Mandarin.

Sex worker safety in Mandarin

You can download your own resources by clicking the link. Feel free to print and share – but please do not amend. Click >> Here <<

As you might now be aware, Beyond the Gaze and the Research and Development Team at National Ugly Mugs are working hard to devise and widen the safety and privacy resources produced by BtG.

Watch this space!

The Beyond the Gaze Team 🙂

Beyond the Gaze – Where Do We Go From Here?

Professor Teela Sanders, Research Director at Beyond the Gaze (BtG) and Doctor Raven Bowen, CEO of National Ugly Mugs (NUM), talk about BtG, NUM, the newly formed Research and Development Team at NUM – and where we go from here….

Sex worker safety resources

The Beyond the Gaze project came to its formal end in September 2018. The work that happened during the three years of the project, largely successful because of the engagement and participation of the sex work community, does not stop there. The project activities, particularly the resources (pictured, also available in digital format) produced by sex workers on safety and privacy will be taken forward through the partnership with the National Ugly Mugs. Some of this legacy has been developed because of the importance of research to ‘make a difference’, to not sit on a shelf in a book, or not just be written up for academics to read between themselves.

Teela Sanders BtG

The Beyond the Gaze project was driven by a need to ensure that sex workers voices and experiences (online) were heard, and that those who come into contact with sex workers (practitioners/police) became a little more aware of the working practice of online sex workers in particular the rise of digitally facilitated crimes.

Dr. Raven Bowen NUM

It would be a real shame, and a waste of time and money, if the resources created did not find a home or a use with either sex workers or those practitioners working with the sex work community around safety, crime and access to justice. Therefore, we have been able to move resources away from the University of Leicester to NUM in order to carry on various elements of the impact work going forward. Central to this is the integration of sex workers into NUM through the newly formed Research and Development Team (R&D).

National Ugly Mugs R&D Team

The NUM Research and Development Team (Team R&D!) comprises of 13 industry experts, of diverse gender, cultural and sexual identities, who possess a collective 75.5 years’ experience in the field and 73.5 years’ experience in policy advocacy and rights activism in the UK and elsewhere. Currently, R&D members are revamping the NUM website and reporting forms; sharing the BtG research findings by posting tips and strategies for safer online sex work; engaging in activities related to the operations of NUM, such as participating on hiring panels and auditing our training; and consulting with our partners on various projects and research. The group meets monthly to report on activities, take on new tasks and discuss emerging issues and priorities.

We are looking forward to working with the R&D team to develop projects and new initiatives inspired by their engagement with BtG research findings and NUM!

Prof. Teela Sanders and Dr. Raven Bowen

Quick Update – Safety and Privacy for Online Sex Workers

Safety and Privacy for Sex Workers Available Now

If you are a regular to the site or you know of Beyond the Gaze’s work, you will know that we are working hard to ‘gift back’ the research, our sex worker resources and outcomes to the sex work community. We have been working closely with our partners National Ugly Mugs and their newly formed Research and Development team – NUM R&D – an expert group of industry professionals – to develop ways in which BtG’s research continues to have positive benefit for sex workers now and in the future.

We already have produced:

  • A forty four page document – ‘Safety and Privacy for Online Sex Workers’
  • Safety and privacy tip cards
  • Safety and privacy leaflet
  • Safety and privacy flyers

All of the above were written by sex workers, have been informed by the BtG research and are all available in print or digital form. BtG, NUM and NUM’s R&D team have been busy tweeting and uploading – so download our main document (PDF of Safety and Privacy for Online Sex Workers) from this page. You can also, if you prefer, read it section by section by hovering over the Resources for Sex Workers tab – you will see the title of the document in the drop down menu – see what grabs your attention and you just click to read that section here on the site.

The other resources will be available soon in a downloadable pack. Print versions are being distributed but are currently limited, we’re working on that.

The team at NUM R&D and BtG are now looking at more ways the safety and privacy info can be shared with the sex work community – and even more ways to share the research findings in an effective, creative and community-focused way.

Updates will appear here on this site, on the BtG twitter, the NUM twitter and NUM’s R&D twitter.

Teela Sanders, Lead Researcher for BtG and Raven Bowen, CEO of National Ugly Mugs, have written a post on ‘where we go from here’ to further look at what research is, why we do it and what we do with the findings. Their post is on the way!

Did I say this update would be quick? Whoops….

Until next time,

Matt and the BtG Team 🙂

East London Project Need Your Help – Research Project Call-Out

The lovely people at East London Project have been in touch to ask us to share with you their research project into laws, policing and how this affects sex workers. Please contact East London Project directly if you wish to take part or require further information.

From their researchers:

Are you a sex worker, working in London?

Would you like to take part in a research project to share your experiences about how laws and policing affect sex workers’ safety, health and access to services?

We’re a group of researchers led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, including people with experience of sex work or working with sex workers. We’re working in collaboration with Open Doors (an NHS sex worker support service) and National Ugly Mugs to find out how removing sex work-related police enforcement could affect sex workers’ safety, health and access to services.  The results will be used to fight for laws, policies and services that protect sex workers’ safety, health and rights, across London and the UK.

You can read more about the research here:

We are inviting sex workers to take a confidential online questionnaire who

  • Sell sex (in-person services) in London OR have sold sex in these areas in the past 3 months.


  • Are aged 18 years or older

We want to hear from people of all genders and nationalities, and people who’ve worked in any sector of the sex industryproviding direct sexual services (e.g. flats, saunas, agencies, outdoors, independently). We would like to talk to people who have and have not had contact with police in relation to their work.

Questionnaire available in English, Polish, Romanian and Portuguese (Brazilian).

The questionnaire is completely confidential and you do not need to give your name or contact details if you do not want to. The project has full approval from the LSHTM ethics committee and London Stanmore NHS research ethics committee.

We will give you £20 to thank you for taking part (details on website for payment methods available) and you can access free HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhoea testing (and we link you into treatment if necessary).

Want to take part? You can complete the questionnaire here if you have login details:

To get login details to enter the secure site, please contact Jocelyn Elmes or see closed sex worker forum posts:

Tel: 0207 6127824 / 07404 160920

Twitter @EastLdnProject,


DM at Saafe/UK Escorting

The questionnaire asks about your experiences with police, your safety, how your sex work is organised, contact with outreach services, your physical, mental and sexual health and housing and financial situation.

Some questions may be difficult to answer and you don’t have to answer any questions you do not want to. If you like, we can also put you in touch with organisations that provide support on safety, health and rights.

For more information about this study and the wider project, please visit our project website:

No Silence To Violence – New Report By SWARM

This report was produced by the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement in December 2018. Here is what they have to say:

To mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th 2018, SWARM published ‘No silence to violence’, a report on violence against women in prostitution in the UK. The report is specifically aimed at people working in organisations which tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG) and which deliver support services to women who have experienced violence. It includes in-depth testimony from women who have lived experience of doing sex work in the UK and features contributions and case studies from Basis Yorkshire, English Collective of Prostitutes and National Ugly Mugs. 

To access their report in PDF please click here.

Change and Continuity in Targeted Violence Against Sex Workers – Rosie Campbell and Teela Sanders

BtGimage article crime against sex workers

As International Day to end Violence against sex workers is marked across the globe on 17th December  we wanted to reflect on the continued high levels of targeted violence and hate crime committed against sex workers and also some of the changing trends in crimes experienced by sex workers as sex work itself changes, as do wider crime patterns.   As Beyond the Gaze is focusing on the working conditions, safety and regulation of internet based sex work the safety and crime issues faced by people working in the online sector are very much on our minds.

Whilst it is important to stress that most commercial sex interactions go without harassment and violence research indicates that sex workers are more at risk from targeted harassment and violence than the general public and many other occupational groups – these risks varying according to sex working sectors, with many studies showing  higher levels of violence against street sex workers. A systematic review of research on the correlates of violence against sex workers globally was carried out by Dr Kathleen Deering  (University of British Columbia) and a team of researchers. This was  published in the American Journal of Public Health  in 2014 were they  reported that workplace violence over a lifetime was recorded by 45 to 75% of sex workers, with 32% to 55% experienced violence in the last year.

We have researched violence against sex workers for some years and argued in an editorial for a special edition of Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2015 that within this global context it is important to unpack the nuances about which groups of sex workers experience violence, at what level and in what forms in order to appropriately develop laws  and policies to prevent violence against sex workers .

In our research we have found that the relationship between sex work and violence is shaped by three key elements which allow for differences in the research evidence on the levels of violence between sectors and across different jurisdictions. Firstly, the environment /spaces in which sex work takes place, this acknowledges the different locational and organisational factors which shape safety across sectors.  Secondly, the relationship to the state, that is  where a particular form of sex work sits in the regulatory systems, it’s legal status, how and the extent to which it is criminalised and how those laws are enforced.  For example, in legal frameworks that criminalise sex work or have quasi criminalisation with some activities associated with sex work  criminalised, a  difficult context is created where it is hard to gain sex worker confidence and trust in the police. When the police are involved in arresting sex workers, their clients or others who work with sex workers and are also the organisation sex workers must look to for protection and to report crime it is challenging for trust in the police to be achieved.

Thirdly, stigma, social status, and the ‘othering’ of sex workers increases hostility and violence.  There is a considerable consensus in the global sex work literature that sex workers are  stigmatised and this is a central part of the ‘othering’ and objectification of sex workers which researchers have  argued contributes to social exclusion, generates hostility and contributes to the denial of full rights and a lack of protection from victimisation. Findings from research  show that adopting policing approaches which recognise  crimes against sex workers as hate crime contributes to improving criminal justice responses to crimes against sex workers, hence we support such an approach. We support an intersectional approach to hate crime which recognises the varied experiences of hate crime that  sex workers have, not only based on experiences of hostility and targeting by offenders  because of their sex working but also other aspects of social identity such as race, nationality, gender and sexual identity.  For example migrant sex workers may experience targeted crime related to their race or national identity intersected with their sex work status.

One of the reasons for 17th December is to remember those people in sex work who have been murdered.  In the UK  public imagination when sex worker murder is discussed, people tend to recall the serial murders of  street sex workers such as the five women  tragically murdered in Ipswich ten years ago, Gemma Adams, Tania Nichol, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell.   Since those murders in Ipswich 42 sex workers in the UK have been murdered who  are recorded on the database maintained by National Ugly Mugs (NUM).  If  we take the period from October 2013 to the last (known) sex worker murder in the UK in February 2016  eighteen  people have been murdered. Of these  56%  worked indoor/online,  28%  worked on the  street.  (Please note for 16% how they worked was recorded as not known in the NUM  data base). Now compare this to UK sex workers murdered during 2007-2012 21 people were murdered,  71% worked on  street,  24% worked indoor/online and  5%  street and indoor, indicating an increase in the proportion of  indoor/online sex workers who were murdered.

Since 17th December 2016 the NUM database records three murders of sex workers in the UK,  Daria Pionko in Leeds, Georgina Symonds  in Newport and Jessica McGrath in Aberdeen.  Jessica and Georgina worked in escorting and Daria on the streets. So the issue of violence against sex workers and other crimes are very relevant for the online sector.  Indeed as the online sector is the largest sector of the sex industry in UK it is no surprise that those who target sex workers also target people working in this sector.

This has also been highlighted by findings from a survey of  240 internet based sex workers funded by the Wellcome Trust carried out by  our own Prof Teela Sanders  in partnership with National Ugly Mugs in 2015.  This found that some online sex workers reported crimes  similar to sex workers  in other sectors,  but it also flagged up a number of crimes linked to online and digital technology which had been experienced by internet based sex workers. Some headline findings and recommendations from that research are;

  • Levels of concern about crime varied: but 49% were either ‘fairly worried’ or ‘very worried’ about experiencing crime related to their sex work.
  • 47% had experienced crime in their sex work – the types of which are shown in the chart below.
  • For those working in the online sector new forms of targeted crime were evident. The most Types of crime against sex workers beyond the gazecommon crimes experienced by those people who responded to the survey (86 out of 240) were digitally facilitated which included threatening & harassing texts/calls/emails plus verbal abuse.
  • Sex workers also reported incidents of robbery, rape, physical assault and attempted abduction. Removal of condoms without sex worker consent was the most commonly report non digital crime reported
  • Half of respondents (49%) were either ‘unconfident’ or ‘very unconfident’ that the police will take crimes against them seriously
  • Safety could be improved through decriminalisation, which would allow sex workers to work together, break down stigma , allow for development of improved trust in police and improved public protection policing for sex workers. The action that could improve safety most identified by sex workers taking part was decrimalisation.

If you want to read more about the research go to a summary  or read ‘On our own terms’  published recently in Sociological Research Online

The above post is written by Rosie Campbell and Teela Sanders. For more information and to connect with Rosie and Teela, follow them on twitter:

Dr. Rosie Campbell OBE –

Professor Teela Sanders –

International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers Tribute Video

Today – 17th December 2018 – is #IDEVASW here is a short video to mark the day, from the team at BtG. Teela and Rosie from BtG also have a post coming out later today here on the BtG website. There are many events happening globally to mark this day and to campaign for an end to the violence so many sex workers have suffered and continue to experience. We stand with you all today, every day. Matt and the BtG Team xXx

#IDEVASW – A Summary – International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

The Point of Counting: Mapping the Internet Based Sex Industry

Beyond the Gaze is the largest study to explore online sex work in the UK and a key focus was exploring the strategies online sex workers use to try to protect their safety and also to examine crimes experienced by workers in this sector. Very little research prior to BtG had examined crimes experienced by online sex workers and BtG has we hope made an important contribution to research in this area which can inform policy and practice. Key BtG findings relating to safety strategies and crimes against sex workers were published in November 2018 in the British Journal of Sociology Campbell, R et al ‘Risking safety and rights 2018 online sex work, crimes and blended safety repertories’ To read the article go to Rosie Campbell and Teela Sanders have written a blog post based upon this publication that originally appeared in Sociology Lens. An abstract of this will be published here on the BtG website on Monday 17th December 2018, to mark IDEVASW.

Also in recognition of IDEVASW Rosie, last year, wrote the below piece and we felt it fitting to re-post it here, with a few amendments to bring it up to date. Rosie is still very active in sex work research, writing her forthcoming book on sex work and hate crime and is now Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of York. Here is what Rosie has to say on IDEVASW:

International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers is marked every year globally on 17th December.   This day was created to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers and to remember those who have been murdered.   It was originally created by The sex workers outreach project in the US as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the “Green River Killer” in Seattle Washington. It has grown to be a global event, where sex workers, sex work support projects and their allies  come together in towns and cities around the world to remember sex workers who have experienced violence,  to highlight the need for sex worker rights to safety and protection to be respected and enshrined in laws and polices and to challenge stigma, criminalisation and laws which undermine sex worker safety and contribute to violence.

It’s a day when sex workers, sex worker rights organisations, sex work support projects and their supporters/allies come together to remember victims of violence, call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers & reinforce the message that crimes against sex workers are unacceptable and a violation of sex worker’s rights. 

Matt Valentine-Chase, a previous researcher (now webmaster) in the Beyond the Gaze team,  has produced a short slide show video to mark the day on behalf of the team, this will be live on the site on Monday 17th December 2018.

On the 17th December and the days near two it lots of events, actions and remembrances are taking place across the globe including in the United Kingdom.  National Ugly Mugs (NUM) lists some of these on their website where you can also find NUM’s 2018 IDEVASW campaign – ‘Say Their Names’ – this is a powerful and heartfelt initiative. Please visit for further information. You can also download their PDF memorial flyer by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

In solidarity with sex workers and in remembrance,

Rosie Campbell and the Beyond the Gaze Team

NUM ‘Say Their Names’ Memorial Card: International-Day-to-End-Violence-Against-Sex-Workers-Booklet