New online safety and wellbeing service launched for women selling sex in Scotland

A new safety and wellbeing service has been launched for women in Scotland selling or exchanging sex or sexual activity online.

The service, called Click, aims to respond to the changing nature of prostitution in Scotland where an estimated 1500 women in Scotland advertise sex online every day.

This figure has increased in recent years, with the internet enabling new ways of selling or exchanging sex. Traditional support services for women involved in prostitution have previously been concentrated in the big cities. With the more transient and geographically disparate nature of selling sex online, there has been a gap in women being able to access these traditional support services, with women therefore facing a ‘postcode lottery’ when it comes to accessing support.

Selling sex online is associated with a higher risk of stalking, online harassment and doxing and so selling sex online and indoors creates a unique set of risks for these women.

Angela Voulgari, Click service manager at Sacro, said: “A decline in saunas, brothels and street prostitution means a lot more women are now working from either flats or transient accommodation like hotels. This is not just confined to the big cities. Having access to digital technology allows them to work in just about every corner of the country.

“Just as smartphones allow the women to communicate easily with clients and to advertise online, the people who buy sex have the same easy access to the women and their location, and that is a safety concern.”

The Click service aims to address this by building on existing resources to create a national partnership service that can respond to women involved in selling or exchanging sex online along with giving women a voice to shape future services.

This support will be provided nationally via a live online chat service and dedicated Click Women’s Workers based across nine locations in Scotland. Click will reach out to women online to provide information on a range of topics including safety, wellbeing and sexual health.

At the launch, Minister for Community Safety Ash Denham said: “Digital and mobile technology is changing the way people live and act – offering new opportunities to reach and support women who may be involved in prostitution. Click allows specially trained individuals to engage directly with women who may otherwise not come to the attention of services.

“We are working with Sacro and other partners to continue to address gendered violence, protect human rights and dignity, and improve outcomes for vulnerable women. This includes taking all appropriate measures to tackle commercial sexual exploitation, of which prostitution is one aspect.”

An important focus for Click is that it is women-led and the service aims to provide a platform for women selling sex online to share their stories and experiences and for women with lived experience to have a voice in shaping future services and resources.

Support provided by Click is confidential and women are in control of how much information they share with the service and the Click website and app are set up to be able to be used anonymously. At no point does a woman need to provide personal information if she doesn’t want to. Click does not collect any identifying information regarding users via the website or app.

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