A POWERFUL exhibition providing a rare insight into the hidden world of the sex industry in Scotland opens in Galashiels this month.

The Scottish Borders Violence Against Women Partnership and Encompass Network have teamed up to bring the Inside Outside exhibition to Old Gala House.

Inside Outside Borders includes films, podcasts, stories and photos from women involved in street prostitution, escorting, brothels and saunas across Scotland.

It is part of a series of events being held in the Borders to raise awareness of the issue.

Inside Outside was co-ordinated by Linda Thompson from the Women’s Support Project on behalf of the Encompass Network.

Linda told us: “Inside Outside has been an incredible piece of work which highlights the reality of inside the sex industry, which many people don’t get the chance to hear about.

“The women were honest in telling their stories and we are privileged as outsiders to be allowed into their lives. These women have been and still are incredibly brave, having experienced violence and abuse.

“They are also one of the most creative, insightful and warm groups of women I have ever been lucky enough to work with.”

Photographer Kathryn Rattray supported the women to take their own images which chronicled their background, journey in sex work and their struggles to exit it.

Katie, one of the Inside Outside participants, added: “I think the idea of getting women to tell their stories in such an individual way and using our minds to create something so beautiful that is going to reach so many people is amazing, and shows why we shouldn't be ashamed of our stories – they are our stories.

"They have made us who we are."

Inside Outside is at Old Gala House from 10am to 4pm on Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30.

Borders College is holding a taster event for students and staff on Monday, September 18at its Netherdale campus in Galashiels, with Woodside Garden Centre near Ancrum also hosting a promotional event on Saturday and Sunday September 23 and 24.

There is a short film and art exhibition at the Heart of Hawick on Wednesday, October 4.

The exhibition has been supported by Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre, Borders College, Border Women’s Aid, Woodside Garden Centre and Heart of Hawick.

Councillor Watson McAteer said: “There is a perception with some people that the sex industry is not an issue in rural locations such as the Borders.

“However, Inside Outside highlights that it is an issue across Scotland and the women who have been involved in this powerful exhibition should be respected for their bravery in stepping forward to share their stories.

“This is an important exhibition which I am pleased Scottish Borders Council is supporting.”

More information on Inside Outside is available at www.insideoutsidescotland.info