"Sex for rent" and structural violence in British housing policy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the issue of sex-for-rent arrangements through the lens of structural violence, specifically focusing on the impact of housing policies on economically disadvantaged women. Despite being under-researched, sex-for-rent is a significant issue demanding attention. Recent data from YouGov and Generation Rent reveals that half a million women in the UK have experienced requests for sexual favours from landlords (Gov.UK, 2023). In response to this issue, the UK Home Office initiated a consultation in 2023, which frames increased criminal controls and tighter regulations on sex work as potential solutions. This chapter aims to present a counter-narrative to the carceral approach and comprehensively understand the underlying dynamics of sex-for-rent arrangements.

Adopting a zemiological framework, this research views sex-for-rent as a foreseeable social harm resulting from housing policies that disproportionately affect impoverished and precariously employed women. It explores the contribution of these policies, alongside poverty and gender inequality, to the prevalence of such arrangements.

By synthesising diverse scholarly perspectives, this chapter contributes to the existing literature by comprehensively analysing the structural violence inherent in sex-for-rent arrangements. It advocates for alternative policy approaches that address the underlying structural inequalities vulnerable women face.

This chapter holds significance for policymakers, scholars, and activists striving to eliminate sex-for-rent arrangements and promote gender equity within housing policy. The study underscores the need for policy interventions that tackle the systemic issues experienced by economically disadvantaged women rather than relying on the criminalisation of sex work as a solution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence
Publication statusIn preparation - 2024


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