Setting: Cambridge University. Magazine: student weekly Varsity. The statement: I have slept with over forty men in two months. I was in my first year at college and I got paid around a thousand pounds a week. With my previous job, I didn’t have enough money to make both ends meet, but now I have more time to study and have fun. Other students from the same prestigious university have similar stories. Indeed, rather than babysit or sell notes to fellow students, most prefer to wear fishnets and lacy underwear to cover their overdraft.
Ladies for sale
Studying is expensive, and that's not hot news. When you add up university tuition fees, rent, weekly shopping, travel costs to go home once in a while, well there isn’t much left in the average student’s wallet or bank account. Most will struggle through with odd jobs as waitresses, saleswomen or call centre operators or, in the best case scenario, giving catch-up classes. But not everyone feels like sacrificing the last few hours of daylight for a few measly pence. And so why not sell your own body, literally or not, to get a bit more?
According to a study conducted by student’s union ‘Sud Etudiant’ and published in 2006 by French daily Le Figaro, a small army of around 40, 000 students, mostly women aged between 19 and 25, sell their bodies to pay for their studies. The phenomenon is not only French, but pan-European and rapidly gaining ground. Countries like Poland or the United Kingdom are not strangers to the problem, where you need to be a near-millionaire to study.
In England, according to a study by Kingston University on 130 students, one in ten admit to knowing a fellow student who works in a nightclub or as an escort-girl. The common denominator is always money. When you think that the average registration fee to study in a British university is 4, 500 euros, that's hardly surprising.
Diary of a webcam girl
Even in Italy, the problem seems widespread. Last year on the Calabria University campus, some students were found to invite other students to their flat for paid sex. But it is not always about real prostitution. Sometimes, it is enough to have a webcam and connect to a site where voyeurs are prepared to pay 150 euros (seventy for the agency and eighty for the girl) for a ten-minute conversation with a virtuous maiden in her underwear. ‘In one month, I make about 3, 000 euros for a few hours per day sitting comfortably in front of my computer,’ reads a post on StudentiMagazine. Morgana, the 22-year-old student who is behind that statement, studies Political Sciences at the Roman institution ‘La Sapienza’. To get an idea of the extent of the phenomenon, just enter www.ragazzeinvendita.com in the URL bar of your browser … and enter a virtual world of young ‘webcam girls,’ some of whom are students, who exhibit, talk and film themselves in exchange for easy and solid earnings. One of them, Helen, tells of her life, choices and life on the internet in her book Diario di una webcamgirl (‘Diary of a webcam girl’), published by Mursia.
And then, there are those who prefer to remain anonymous and who sell their worn underwear on the internet to fetish-lovers. ‘Do you want my panties? Thirteen euros and they’re yours,’ writes an 18-year-old student on a Milan vintage clothing website. ‘If they then want to receive a picture of me wearing the matching set, then they have to pay a bit more.’ Advertisers are keen to specify that there are to be no one-on-one meetings; everything must remain strictly virtual.
There really is something for everyone. But at what price?