SEX WORKERS are demanding emergency funds from the government, warning that the loss of income caused by the coronavirus crisis could reduce many of them to destitution.
The English Collective of Prostitutes, based in north London, has made an urgent call for sex workers to be entitled to the same financial support as others hit by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday, the collective said: “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.”
The group is demanding immediate, appropriate and easy-to-access financial support for sex workers in crisis and for all to be given worker status so that they can receive sick pay, wage-loss relief and the benefits that other workers are demanding.
“We need rent, mortgage, utility-bill relief and emergency housing for homeless sex workers,” the collective insisted.
A number of hardship funds have been set up to support sex workers, including one launched by grassroots collective Swarm (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement).
“The most marginalised are the most at risk,” Swarm said. “We often have nowhere to turn if clients stop coming to see us, and can face poverty or homelessness.”
The English Collective of Prostitutes said that sex workers are mostly single mothers, many of whom rely on selling sex after years of austerity.
Last year, a select committee of MPs heard from a number of grassroots groups working with women involved in prostitution that the financial hardship caused by benefit reforms was driving more people to sell sex.