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Sex workers 'should have access to support fund'

A third of escorts have been continuing to offer face-to-face meetings, estimated one sex worker.  The English Collective of Prostitutes said there was precedent for a support fund and without one many had to choose between earning and risking health. In response, the government said it had increased Universal Credit payments.

'Offered more money'

Victoria - a Nottingham escort and adult film star - said her earnings had fallen from about £2,000 a week to £200 a week, which she had earned through online work. "It has affected me, I'm getting by but it's just a fraction of what I'm used to earning," said Victoria, who has four children. She said some clients had put pressure on her to ignore the lockdown.  "I've had a lot of messages and been offered a lot more money than I'd normally charge," she said. "One got shirty and offered me more money and I point blank refused. "Escorts can charge a lot more now if they want to... if they have business sense I'm sure they would put up prices."

Charlotte Rose, also a sex worker from Nottingham, said many women would not get any help because social stigma had put them off registering as a self-employed sex worker.  She estimated a third of escorts were still offering face-to-face services. "Sex workers are predominantly single mothers and they still have to work, they still have to earn," she said. "If they're not registered, they're not applicable for the government funding. "If they've got children, how are they supposed to feed their families?"

The English Collective of Prostitutes said there was "no reason" why the UK could not follow countries such as Japan and Thailand and provide emergency money.  "Because sex work is criminalised, sex workers are being deprived of the support, payments and protections available to others," said a spokeswoman.  "We are asking for emergency, easy-to-access cash payments to be given to sex workers in crisis.  "This has been done before. In Ipswich during a series of tragic murders in 2006, when the imperative was for women to be able to get off the street, the government provided emergency payments." The government said in a statement: "Universal Credit payments have been increased to help support people through these unprecedented times."

 BBC NEWS

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