Birmingham Live: Sex workers demand bailout from government after income plummets amid coronavirus crisis
The English Collective of Prostitutes, based in Kentish Town, in London, have demanded worker status for thousands of sex workers across the country
Sex workers are demanding bailouts from the government after their income plunged amid the coronavirus crisis.
The English Collective of Prostitutes, based in Kentish Town, in London, have demanded worker status for thousands of sex workers across the country.
The body wants easy-to-access financial support for sex workers in crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the UK.
In a statement seen by BirminghamLive, the group says: “Much sex work involves personal contact – exactly what we are being warned against if the virus is to be contained.
“The virus comes on top of a crisis of poverty, especially among women.
“Most sex workers are mothers, mainly single mothers, who have been made poorer by austerity cuts.”
Figures show one and a half million people have been made destitute by government policies and four million children are living in poverty.
That means that 100,000s of families in the UK rely on the income from sex work to survive.
The group continues: “Sex workers’ income is down and for some women it has almost disappeared. Some women are turning to non-contact forms of sex work like camming where possible.
“Women working on the street, migrant and trans workers, who already have the highest rates of poverty, arrest and violence, are particularly suffering.
“Like other workers, we are being forced to choose between earning an income and risking ours and our loved ones’ health.
“Contact with health professionals and contact tracing measures are hindered by criminalisation because we can’t say what we do or who we know for fear of arrest and discrimination.
We must have access to emergency money. Sex workers are denied status as workers so we are denied the rights and entitlements other workers may have.
“Many of us, and the families who depend on our income, will face destitution if we can’t access whatever emergency money workers win from the government. If sex workers’ contribution to the survival and welfare of people was more visible, our status would rise, and our demands would be seen to be more valid.”
As such, the group wants the decriminalisation of sex work and an immediate moratorium on raids, arrests and prosecutions.
The group also “demands immediate, appropriate and easy-to-access financial support for sex workers in crisis and worker status so that we can get sick pay, wage relief and the benefits that other workers are demanding.”
“We need rent, mortgage, utility bill relief and emergency housing for homeless sex workers,” the group adds.
“We support the demand for a care income.
“The work of caring for people is always central but this pandemic has brought home how essential it is to survival. If we were paid for our caring work we could leave prostitution.
“We support demands for the release of people in immigration detention and of non-violent prisoners, and end to sharing of information between immigration and health services so that people can access health care without fear of deportation and the many other measures that are needed to prioritise health, safety and welfare.”