"It would be advantageous to the control of COVID-19 if the government was willing to work in partnership with sex worker organisations, rather than to implement criminalisation and penalties."
– Jules Kim, Scarlet Alliance, Australia
The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and deepening existing inequalities. Its impact is clearly gendered and already marginalised and stigmatised people, such as sex workers, LGBTQ people, and (un)documented migrants, continue to be especially hard hit by the disease, its impact and the surveillance, discrimination and penalisation that are accompanying the response. This fact sheet on COVID-19 and sex work sheds light on the various ways in which the pandemic has affected sex workers’ health and rights, with respect to inadequate or non-existent access to labour rights, exclusion from government relief and protection measures, and as targets of intensified law enforcement, to name a few.
The fact sheet also lays out how allies can take action to support sex workers’ rights through advocacy, demanding an end to criminalisation, collaborating directly with sex workers for COVID emergency responses and supporting sex-worker led fundraising campaigns and mutual support initiatives.
Note: This is part of a series of fact sheets that highlight commonplace challenges that sex workers face [e.g. in the law, in the workplace, as targets of violence, etc.]. Under COVID-19, these challenges have become extreme and have driven many sex workers with already precarious incomes into crisis, destitution and/or death. The series will soon be launched through a public campaign. Watch out for it here!