Action Alert: Demand support not criminalisation for sex workers
This action has now ended but thousands of sex workers and supporters in our network wrote to their MP to demand emergency payments for sex workers during the pandemic.
Please demand that your MP raise the situation of sex workers, many of whom have been made destitute and homeless by this crisis. Please see info below and take action using our online campaigning tool here
Like millions of other people, sex workers, many of whom are mothers supporting families, have been deprived of an income by the virus and now the lockdown. But because sex work is criminalised sex workers are also deprived of the support, payments and protections available to others.
Sex workers are being forced to choose between earning an income and risking their own and their loved ones’ health. In some cases women are being taken to court for loitering and soliciting and there is even talk among police of prosecuting those working inside. This is an unacceptable response. The government’s own research found that financial need and criminalisation create the “perfect cocktail of conditions” for undermining sex workers’ safety.
We are demanding that at this moment of national crisis, health and human survival is prioritised over criminalisation. We demand emergency payments and housing for sex workers who are destitute, an immediate moratorium on arrests and prosecutions, access to health care regardless of immigration status, an increase in Universal Credit to the level of the living wage, worker and self-employed status so that sex workers can claim sick pay, wage relief and other benefits, implementation of the 2016 Home Affairs Committee recommendation to decriminalise sex workers on the street and in working together in premises.
There are precedents for our proposals. New Zealand decriminalised sex work in 2003 and the Guardian recently reported that its “policy framework has helped sex workers . . . find financial security and safety during this time of crisis”. In Ipswich during a series of tragic murders, when the imperative was for women to be able to get off the street, the government provided emergency payments.
Other countries, including Japan and Thailand, are providing emergency money for sex workers, why not here!