English Collective of Prostitutes: Sex workers won’t survive ‘hidden’ coronavirus crisis without government support

The English Collective of Prostitutes says Whitehall must step in to provide financial relief. Pictu

The English Collective of Prostitutes says Whitehall must step in to provide financial relief. Picture: English Collective of Prostitutes - Credit: English Collective of Prostitutes

A Kentish Town prostitutes group says sex workers “won’t survive” the “hidden” coronavirus crisis without government support.

The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Wolsey Mews, is calling on Whitehall to officially recognise sex workers as employees so they can receive financial aid, as the government has done with furloughed workers and the self-employed.

Prostitution is not illegal in the UK but soliciting in a public place, pimping and kerb crawling are.

In a statement, the ECP said: “The virus has thrown millions into crisis.

“For sex workers, forced by criminalisation, stigma and discrimination to live in the shadows, that crisis is more hidden.”

As the coronavirus death toll climbs, the ECP says prostitutes continuing to work face risking their own and others’ health.

Niki Adams, 55, a spokesperson for the ECP, said: “These people are already living hand-to-mouth and on the edge. They won’t survive this.”

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The ECP estimates more than 70 per cent of sex workers are mothers, most of whom are single.

The campaigning group says the majority of sex workers are also full-time carers.

“And if you add on the number of women also caring for someone with a disability or an elderly person, there’s not many left,” Niki continued.

Families who financially depend upon the income of prostitutes have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Niki said: “If sex workers’ contribution to the survival and welfare of people was more visible, our status would rise, and our demands would be seen to be more valid.”

Before businesses were forced to close, the ECP and the Crossroads Women’s Centre worked together to offer daily meals for struggling women and their families.

Since shutting last week, their support has been focused on securing emergency hardship funds and helping with universal credit applications.

Employment status would remove the need for these measures, granting sex workers access to the financial support offered by the government to other employees affected by the pandemic.

The ECP is working with other organisations such as Women Against Rape, WinVisible and the All African Women’s Group to gain protection and rights for sex workers.

Its petition to decriminalise prostitution be found at prostitutescollec-tive.net/petitionFor more information visit prostitutescollective.netFor the latest coronavirus news from the Ham&High and across north London visit our live blog and join our Facebook group.

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