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Jean Hillabold, holding a photo of herself from earlier days, thinks the Saskatoon adult services licencing bylaw is a step in the right direction. (CBC)

A University of Regina professor who once worked as an escort is telling her story, and says she supports better regulation of the sex trade.

Thirty years ago, Jean Hillabold worked for two escort agencies and was paid for having sex with male customers. Today, she teaches first-year English at the university, but in an interview with CBC News, she talked about her past life and the sex trade.

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"A number of things happened to make me desperate," she said, explaining how she got into the business when she was about 30.

At the time, she said, she was working on her master's thesis and was a single mother who wasn't getting child support from her ex-husband.

One day she answered an escort agency ad in the newspaper and before long she had been lined up with her first customer.

"I was nervous," she said. "I didn't know what to expect."

Over the next five years, she continued working as an escort part-time.

"On an average day, I could make roughly $500 in about five hours," she said.

'Looking back, I still can't see what else I could have done' —Jean Hillabold

She says she has some regrets about those years. It was difficult to maintain friendships or a steady relationship and even today, she's still considered the black sheep of her family.

Yet her situation left her with few options, she said.

"Looking back, I still can't see what else I could have done," she said.

Bylaw is a start

Hillabold said she's pleased that Saskatoon has just passed a new bylaw requiring escort agencies, massage parlours and other adult services to get special licences.

Hillabold says the sex industry should be licensed and become like any other service industry, with employees getting regular paycheques and paying taxes.

It will be easier to keep people safe if the industry isn't underground, she said.

"This is partly why you get 12-year-olds on the street; stories of pimps doing horrible things. A lot of that could be policed if it was legal," she said.

Saskatoon police say they want to use the Adult Services Licensing Bylaw to check up on businesses and make sure any people who work there are not minors.

The law goes into effect in July.