Sex workers want the government to recognise thousands of prostitutes across the country as employees affected by coronavirus so they can receive financial aid, as the government has done with furloughed workers and the self-employed. Keep reading this article and find out how the specialized portals are taking measures warning users about this global problem.
There are between 70.000 and 90.000 sex workers in the UK, most of whom work across a variety of indoor (private work) and outdoor (street-based) settings. Sex workers are a diverse population, encompassing many marginalised groups – disabled people, trans people, people of colour, migrants, single mothers and carers – for whom the sex industry is often the best, or only, option.
For london escorts, the impact of COVID-19 began gradually, as non-essential travel, conferences, meetings and flights were cancelled over the last month.
Some workers have the resources and time to transfer the majority of their in-person work online, by creating content and using platforms such as webcam and chat sites to create an alternative source of income.
Online sites are taking all appropriate measures to encourage users to take care of themselves at this difficult time. some of the messages that you can find are of this style: “#stayhome If you care about yourself, stay home. We’ll be meeting each other again with no fear”.
They are offering video call services and using hashtags like “everything will be fine” in order to calm the anxiety and loneliness.
How Coronavirus pandemic affects?
Sex workers say they have been abused and spat. They claim stigma towards them is growing because of the coronavirus pandemic. In the public imagination, the mental leap from “sex worker” to “disease” comes easily.
Some clients find themselves instructed to work from home whilst others are now entirely out of jobs with little disposable income. With the sudden downturn in the economy and the recession that COVID-19 has already catalysed, not to mention the dramatically increased policing and surveillance of people as disease vectors, many of the people who will suffer the most are the workers who are deemed ‘unskilled’ and inessential to our economy.
Women in walk-up brothels told the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) that members of the public had screamed at them for working during the pandemic. Outdoor workers describe being spat at and verbally abused from passing cars.
Whether it’s paying for sex or ordering clothes from an Asos warehouse, neither is an essential service for the buyer. Men can manage without sex; all of us can manage without new isolation outfits. What’s essential is people’s need to work and pay the bills.
Many sex workers who should be able to claim help as self-employed will miss out. Migrants who sell sex are not granted any form of worker rights and will be ineligible. Of the sex workers who are registered, few want to file taxes naming “sex worker” as their profession.
You can help
Despite the dire predicaments of the current moment, sex workers are finding means of survival and solidarity through collective action. Grassroots sex worker-led collective SWARM has started a hardship fund for UK workers facing financial crisis along with guidelines for how allies and clients alike can donate in order to share support. The grant provides payments of £200 to UK sex workers in financial hardship with no savings to fall back on.
- Donate money and supplies: sex workers and advocates have set up emergency relief fundraisers. Other sex workers’ rights organizations in specific localities, as well as online, are raising funds too.
- Pay tribute to providers and subscribe: instead of streaming free porn, which was likely taken from its creators, try to be an ethical porn consumer and pay for subscriptions to providers’ channels.
- Share resources: donating old devices or sharing your technological wherewithal can be helpful for sex workers trying to transition to digital work.
In the first person
We are going to publicize the case of Sasha (not her real name), a mother of two, she had been working in a parlour three days a week while her children were in school, earning between £40 and £70 a day. Now the 33-year-old says she has no work. She has applied for universal credit but when it arrives it will not cover her rent. “I have tried so hard to put some money by, but every week every penny gets used for one emergency or another so I have no savings,” she said. “I spend my whole day anxious. There is no let-up […] I feel like I am living by a thread.”
It is in these moments of crisis when we must understand each other and show solidarity with each case that needs our help. Sex workers deserve support from the government and society like any worker, the time to look next door is now!