“We are facing a massive crisis,” said Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes. “No one wants to flout the rules and put themselves and others at risk, but those who are still working literally have no other choice. “
On an adult website, there were 800 sex workers across the UK “available to book” on Thursday, including around 150 in London. Adams said many of them would not work, but would use the site to keep their profiles active in the hope that potential customers could be persuaded to pay for sex by phone or camera. Others, however, had not stopped working because they had no other income, no savings, or returned to work when rent and bills were due.
“We need immediate emergency cash payments to these women who, at the moment, have nothing to eat. We know who these women are and we need to help them now, not in several weeks, ”she said.
Sasha *, a mother of two, worked in a salon three days a week while her children were in school, earning between £ 40 and £ 70 a day. Now the 33-year-old woman says she has no job. She asked for universal credit, but when she arrived, he would not cover her rent. “I have tried so hard to save money, but every week every penny is used for one emergency or another, so I have no savings,” she said. “I spend my whole day anxious. There is no respite […] I feel like I live on a thread. “
Last week, the all-party parliamentary group on prostitution and the global sex trade urged the Home Secretary to protect sex workers in the UK, saying that a sudden lack of access to support services and income made them particularly vulnerable. ” We are […] extremely concerned that when exploiters cannot use women to make money because of the coronavirus, the lives of women become literally worthless to them, “they wrote.
A spokesperson for Beyond the Streets, which supports street sex workers in east London as part of their work, said that many of the women the association worked with found it difficult to apply for credit universal because they didn’t have access to email and phones were regularly sold.
Although the charity usually focuses on improving the future of women, it is now simply trying to keep their lives from getting worse. One woman described her fear of daily hospital visits to receive methadone and other infection-causing people at her inn. She said donations of food to the inn had stopped, and when she spoke to charity, she hadn’t eaten for days.