No economic activity in France has been more severely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and its subsequent blockage than prostitution – or what we have delicately called “sex work”. Social distancing brutally stopped her, and most sex workers, as we are now asked to call them, found themselves without income. Since they work entirely in the informal sector, they are also left without social security coverage.
The spokesperson for the Sex Professionals Union in France, Anaïs de Lenclos (a pseudonym, we wonder?), Eloquently underlined the difficulties that prostitutes, men and women now face:
During the period of detention, almost all sex workers, male and female, stopped working, for their own health and to protect the public. In any case, the isolation physically prevented us from working. . . . The problem is that nothing was planned for us, and we are left with nothing to eat and no way to pay our rent. We will soon find ourselves on the street. As a result, some of us are forced to go back to work, even if we don’t want to break the confinement. Because when you have nothing to eat and sleep outside, you have to find a solution.
Then she added something revealing: “I think the government has completely failed and has not thought of those living in precariousness. “
I have no idea the average or median income of prostitutes in France. No doubt some are doing well and some are not. In the absence of such knowledge, it is impossible for me to judge if they could, and therefore should for having put something on a rainy day. But it is clear that those who depend on the government to guarantee their lives when all else fails – and that, of course, means millions of people – are not in a position to object or complain when they are subject to government interference. Whoever pays the piper calls the melody.
The spokesperson also drew attention to an unpleasant consequence for prostitutes who found themselves in dire need. There is more supply than demand, so to speak, so few customers are now able to negotiate lower prices for the services they want. The operation of the law of supply and demand is not always pleasant, nor in accordance with morality.
De Lenclos suggested that the government create a special fund to deal with the situation. And regardless of whether it should have been necessary and whether there should be a special fund to rescue prostitutes, there will to be necessary to support themselves, as for millions of other needy people. We cannot just let people go hungry.
The crisis has revealed only too clearly what everyone could and should have done for a long time: that millions of people in the West live in precariousness, at the limit of being able to finance themselves, but not necessarily at a level of low life. Does our economy encourage or even demand this?
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images
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