Many sex workers ignoring coronavirus distancing measures: report

Red lights shining out of window brothels in Amsterdam's Red Light District
Red lights shining out of window brothels in Amsterdam's Red Light DistrictPhoto: OrioleGin/DepositPhotos

Despite sex clubs being closed and the practice of high-contact professions being banned to curb the spread of coronavirus Covid-19, many sex workers in the Netherlands are still working, only from home. They have bills to pay and some are not eligible for government social security schemes and emergency funds, Nieuwsuur reports after speaking to sex workers and associations that represent them.

"I worked in different clubs, including the Hague and Amsterdam. There was only one other option: I decided to work at home. Also because there was demand from my customers," one sex worker said to the program. "A lot of my colleagues from the clubs are doing the same thing: they work from home or rent a room with a friend." She expects that more sex workers will follow suit as the soft lockdown continues. "They'll have to, because you can't go hungry. It is like the hairdresser, I can't go there now, so the hairdresser comes to my house. Life goes on, but under the radar."

"The rent has to be paid and there has to be bread on the table," escort Lyle Muns of the non-profit brothel My Red Light said to Nieuwsuur. "The longer the intelligent lockdown lasts, the more colleagues will return to work so as not to lose customers unnecessarily."

Minke Fisscher of Belle, a relief agency for sex workers and victims of human trafficking, pointed out to Nieuwsuur that not all sex workers can claim social security or from emergency funds, because not everyone in prostitution is self-employed or have a DigiD. Thousands of people are ending up in financial trouble, she said. 

There are no hard figures about the number of sex workers currently operating from home, but around 150 advertisements per day are placed on erotic sites like Kinky, Seksjobs and Speurders, according to the program.