All non-essential workplaces have closed and people are being advised to stay indoors and to ‘social distance’ from each other. This is having a particular impact on the sex industry. Already sex workers are seeing a dramatic decrease in clients. Clients are staying away, hotels are closing or at least disallowing non-residents in, and university students are being evicted in swaths if they are in student housing, in order to keep people apart.
We in Ireland were already living under the Nordic Model, which meant a reduction in decent clients for sex workers. This pandemic will make it so much worse for sex workers.
We know from first-hand accounts that street workers, in particular, are feeling the sting of the efforts to curb COVID-19. Most of the street workers in Ireland are truly working at a survival level and this will not change under the current lockdown.
We have also contacted high-level politicians and government departments to request that we are included in any meetings about high-risk populations. We have asked for the cessation of all garda raids on sex work-related activity for the duration of Covid-19, in particular for issues such as ‘brothel keeping’, which in most cases involves two or more people working together for health and safety.
We ask you to give what you can to help precarious workers make it through. This money will go directly into the hands of sex workers through individual emergency payments. Any little helps.