As non-essential businesses close to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, American workers are experiencing layoffs, pay cuts, and a whole lot of financial uncertainty. While on-the-books workers are being encouraged to file for unemployment and/or possibly being aided by Congress’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, American sex workers are unlikely to benefit from either of these measures.

“Sex workers cannot file for unemployment and are denied access to several aspects of the formal economy such as paid sick leave and healthcare,”  Emily Coombes, a researcher and organizer based in Las Vegas, told Salon in an email. “Overall, the public needs to know that not only are sex workers being hit hard by the spread of this virus and response to a growing global pandemic, but also how sex workers are missing from a lot of general conversations about supporting workers through self-isolation.”

The Las Vegas Strip has shut down, putting service workers in a precarious situation — particularly sex workers. Sex work is notoriously precarious labor, meaning many sex workers were already struggling to make ends meet prior to the pandemic, especially those already marginalized in society.

“Black, brown, trans and queer workers, sex workers who are housing unstable, sex workers who are chronically ill or living with disabilities are all particularly at risk for negative impacts,” Coombes said. “There are essentially no secure safety nets for sex workers when there is a massive shutdown or quarantine like the one we’re in now; what sex working communities often end up relying on to get by is mutual aid and emergency funds.”

Read the Full Article:

Sex workers are stressed, anxious and depressed amid COVID-19 pandemic by Nicole Karlis

March 22, 2020