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Rent boys on the rise in Manchester: 2,000 of them sold sex in 2016

Calling cards on telephone boxes have been banned for well over a decade, but the selling of sex is on the up.

The oldest profession may be ever-present in Britain’s biggest gay village, but technology has transformed the way that sex is sold, the Evening News reports.

Sex work has always been connected to the gay and cruising scenes in Manchester, and has been concentrated around Canal Street as well as other areas such as the Undercroft and Tariff Street, though that is now changing.

The growing homelessness in Manchester has led to a rise in what has been dubbed ‘survival sex’, where young men sell their bodies to stay alive. With the development of social media technologies, it is becoming harder to keep victims safe

Fergal McCullough, director of charity The Men’s Room who supports male sex workers through creative engagement, outreach sessions, and advocacy support, said that there are two main types of men soliciting sex for money.

© Peter Corbett via Flickr

“We work with a lot of lads in their mid-twenties who are out having a great time in the Village, have a home but no job, with high drug and alcohol use and use sex work as something to do, they are comfortable with it and happy with it,” he explained.

“Then there is ‘survival sex’. That’s more the young homeless lad out of prison, or highly addicted, who identifies as straight.

“They hate it and they hate themselves for doing it but it’s a way of making money. They will likely do a bit of burglary, some drug dealing and a bit of sex work too.”

Related: Male refugees in Greece are selling sex to survive

A research conducted last year found that there were 353 men selling sex online in the Manchester area, but if you were to include men offering sex on sites which are classified, such as Craigslist and Backpage, as well as social media, the figure rockets to around 2,000.

Currently in the UK, it is legal to exchange sexual activities for money or other goods. However,  activities such as soliciting and ‘kerb crawling’ (working the streets) are illegal.

Related: Manhunt founder fights for rent boy rights

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