As the UK comes under the second national lockdown, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) has called for state support.
The campaign group stated that sex workers are forced “deeper into crisis” whenever the state imposes new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has left sex workers with no other choice than to risk their health and serve their families from starvation.
A former sex worker, Cari – not her real name – from the ECP said the new restrictions made it “more urgent that the government provide the emergency payments we are demanding”.
She called on ministers to address “sex workers’ illegal status that prevents women claiming the entitlements available to other workers”.
Almost eight in ten sex workers are single mothers who are working to provide for their children despite safety concerns as they don`t get financial support.
Rachel Mac Dermot, from Bristol’s One25 charity, said: “These women are the most marginalised, the most stereotyped, the most stigmatised. And I hate that. They could be your mum, your sister, your daughter, your best friend.”
Despite concerns raised over the criminalising sex work during the pandemic, the government has made it clear that the laws will remain the same.
A government spokesman said: “We have no plans to change the law around prostitution and are committed to tackling the harm and exploitation associated with sex work.
“Universal Credit is providing a vital safety net to those who need support during the pandemic.”
Most sex workers are now afraid to seek help when they need it because sex work is still illegal in the UK.