Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Probe over sex industry job scheme

Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones has launched an investigation into the Business Wales website

Wales' First Minister has launched an investigation after a Welsh Government-backed scheme offered career advice on how to earn megabucks working in the sex industry.

Among the tips offered by the Business Wales website included about how to become a stripper as well as running a lap dancing club and escort agency. They were among hundreds of "start-up business ideas" and said that strippers and lap dancers could "expect to earn an average £232 per evening", with annual incomes that "can range from £24,000 to £48,000".

Users interested in setting up an escort agency were advised that "the escorts provide companionship to the client when attending events such as a formal dinner or the theatre". It said clients typically include single businessmen and women who hire an escort to "accompany" them to events and holidays. "Escort agencies usually have several escorts on their books. Agencies charge escorts an 'introduction fee' of between 25% and 55% of what the client pays to the escort," the factsheet said.

While it went on to say that was an offence for an agency to "incite escorts to act as prostitutes", the guide went on to provide links to websites offering "transsexual post-operation and submissive escorts".

The gaffe came to light during First Minister's questions in the Senedd - which saw several opposition parties raise their concerns. Plaid Cymru AM Jocelyn Davies said: "I'm certainly not a prude, but it is hard to understand how the Welsh Government can believe it is acceptable to provide information to help women become strippers or run a lap dancing club, which is classed as a sex establishment.

"While jobs are difficult to find and money is tight, should the Welsh Government be effectively facilitating these activities by putting information on their website? Stripping is degrading for women and the Welsh Government should not the promoting the view that sexually exploitative work is an acceptable career."

Those remarks were also echoed by Lib Dem Eluned Parrott and Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies.

Miss Parrott said: "These are perfectly legitimate businesses, however I was very surprised to learn that these factsheets are offered to young people via a link on the Welsh Government's Big Ideas Wales website which is aimed specifically at youth entrepreneurs. The adult entertainment industry is just that - a field that is appropriate for adults, but not one that should be marketed as an aspirational career opportunity to potentially vulnerable young people."

Mr Davies added: "While we should all be free to choose our own career paths, the government has a duty to put safeguards in place protecting the most vulnerable."

After the issue was raised in the Senedd, the sections about stripping, lap dancing and escort agencies were removed from the site. Labour leader and father-of-two Mr Jones told AMs he had had just been informed of the website "10 minutes ago" but promised his officials would be investigating the matter.

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