As the number of COVID-19 infections in the United States grows rapidly, nightclubs and bars have shut down, public health officials have ordered people to “socially distance,” the stock market has tanked, and sex workers have begun to see negative impacts of the pandemic.

“I haven’t gotten any customers, so I’ve been cutting down on food,” Maya Moreno, a sex worker based in Brooklyn, New York, told Rewire.News. “A few people canceled because of flights, but I’m also not getting the amount of people reaching out like I used to.”

Moreno is shifting her focus to her OnlyFans account, a paid subscription content service, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sex workers run a higher risk of virus transmission, as many jobs—like stripping, escorting, and massage work— require in-person gatherings and physical intimacy. The public health crisis has also meant lost incomes and a decimation of their industryStrip clubs closedMassage parlors closed. Online, sex workers across the country have shared updates about cancellations and declines in business. Those with access are moving online to subscription services like OnlyFans and camming, or shifting to other industries altogether.

Sex workers are usually self employed or independent contractors, and thus not eligible for unemployment benefits when out of a job. And there is no knowing how long it will take for the industry to bounce back, given the forecasted economic recession.

Here are a few ways you can help sex workers right now.

Donate money and supplies

Sex workers and advocates have set up emergency relief fundraisers in cities like New YorkDetroitPortland, and Las Vegas. Other sex workers’ rights organizations in specific localities, as well as online, are raising funds too.

  • Lysistrata: online sex worker mutual care collective
  • Red Canary Song: advocate group for Asian and migrant sex workers in New York City
  • SWOP Behind Bars: nonprofit providing community support for incarcerated sex workers
  • Green Light Project: Seattle-based harm reduction outreach group for street-based sex workers
  • Bay Area Workers Support: Bay Area-based sex worker resource organization
  • Coyote RI: Rhode Island-based sex worker advocacy grassroots organization

More comprehensive lists of emergency relief fundraisers can be found here and here, including international efforts.

Some groups, like Coyote RI and SWOP Brooklyn, are seeking donations of supplies. SWOP Behind Bars accepts book donations for incarcerated sex workers and those who will be released soon.

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Here’s How You Can Help Sex Workers During the COVID-19 Outbreak by Tiffany Diane Tso

March 26, 2020