To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 100,000 people in the United States. As we all attempt to social distance safely, many working class folks have financially suffered from the economic impact of COVID-19. Our most vulnerable populations within the United States have suffered the most. Black people and People of Color have died at alarming rates prompting calls to action from politicians, doctors, and activist groups. Within the Black and POC communities whom have been devastated by this global pandemic, Sex Workers are continually one group of people who face the most harm, discrimination, violence, and death.
Although income for millions of Americans disappeared overnight, bills for rent, electricity, gas, insurance, phone, childcare expenses, and family members are still expected to continually be paid. Sex workers are not an exception to this rule. With most businesses closed and sex workers not being eligible for any kind of unemployment or federal relief, many sex workers have a tough decision to make. Either continue to work and risk contracting COVID-19, or stop working and face possible homelessness when eviction proceedings begin again, all while not being able to afford food or any other necessities. What Sex Workers are now facing is literally a life or death situation without any relief in sight.
With most businesses closed and sex workers not being eligible for any kind of unemployment or federal relief, many sex workers have a tough decision to make.
Black Sex Workers, Sex Workers of Color, and Trans Sex Workers of Color now face unique challenges during this pandemic. The intersection of being any of the named above means many face violence from police, racism, and risk of violence from clients who know workers are desperate to feed themselves and their families. Also, they all will face higher risk of losing housing due to discrimination. Because of the violence and rapes most sex workers of color face from police, they are less likely to contact police when physically assaulted by a client. Include being a person who is homeless or disabled, and they also have an added layer of possible violence and added discrimination.
We must do everything we can to protect each other during this time and we must include our most vulnerable populations if we are going to do this right.
Although our government isn’t doing anything to help Sex Workers during this time, many organizations and individuals are choosing to help Sex Workers. I personally have redistributed about $6,000 of my own money to Outside based Sex Workers of color and about $500 in donations from people who wanted to help. Many Others have started larger mutual aid funds raising money to redistribute to Sex Workers who need help. One of the organizations doing this work is SWOP Brooklyn. According to their website, “Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.” Their mutual fund has raised over $140,000 to help Sex Workers impacted by COVID-19. Many sex workers I know were able to buy necessary groceries because of this fund. Mutual aid funds are necessary for sex workers to survive this pandemic. Without them, many Sex Workers would be dead. There is no other way to say that, no sugar coating the reality of what is happening. That is the reality of how bad it is for the most marginalized folks who are also Sex Workers. Let this writing serve as a call to action. We must do everything we can to protect each other during this time and we must include our most vulnerable populations if we are going to do this right.
“Mutual aid is always crucial in times of crisis, because it means redistributing resources and providing care to those who are habitually left behind by our government and other institutions. Sex worker populations often exist at the intersections of many marginalized identities — migrants, black people and people of color, queer people, disabled people — that are not only ignored by institutions but actively harmed by them. Participation in mutual aid has a long history that we are just one small part of, and it’s privilege to be a part of our community and serve it in this way. When everything else fails us, we always have each other.”
Venus Cuff’s Mutual Aid Fund Cash App: $Venuscuffs
You can also search “Sex worker” in the gofundme.com search bar and find many more mutual aid funds accepting donations to help sex workers. These groups need your help more than ever.