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Coronavirus causes increased risks of assaults for sex workers

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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Views on the health of sex workers may fall into two camps. There will be those who consider sex workers deserve whatever they get, even if that means being exposed to violent attacks; and those who will see sex workers, mostly women, as victims of social injustice who deserve our support and help.

Mothers turning to Sex Work

This should certainly be the view of most people, recognising that sex workers are often driven to the lifestyle through no fault of their own. As a BBC report recently revealed, one woman had only turned to sex work because of the coronavirus.   Sharon Hawkins from Amber Chaplains says that women “are having to resort to earning money in other means”. In a separate report, Niki Adams from the English Collective of Prostitutes, said that “most sex workers are working mothers, working to support families”. Nicky Porter, from Amber Chaplains, said, “they are out here because they have no other way, means of getting money.”

Decline in Demand for Sex due to Covid-19

It is reported that with the decline in the demand for the services of sex workers, there is a corresponding decline in income for those sex workers meaning they may take greater risks, exposing themselves to greater risks of harm, in order to make a living.    As was reported by one of the Amber Chaplains from Southampton, who support women on the streets, sex workers may place themselves at greater risk by getting into a van and into a vehicle with more than one man, and perhaps being prepared to be taken to unknown destinations.

Sex Workers at Enhanced Risk of Rape and Sexual Assault.

The concern is that because of the coronavirus lockdown, streets sex workers may be at greater risk of rape and violent assault. Some people may be unsympathetic to the plight of sex workers, but they should have our sympathy and certainly know that if they are subject to attack, they will be believed and supported.     The charity (Amber Chaplains) says that women are too scared to report assaults for fear of being arrested, for prostitution, even though they are seen by the police as victims.

More must be done to help sex workers who are, irrespective of any attacks upon them, victims of their circumstances. Even when driven to sex work, they should not be subjected to rape or violent assaults, but if they are, the workers should know that they are likely to be seen as victims by authorities, who want to help.

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