Many sex workers excluded from coronavirus support, MPs call for action

Closed windows in Amsterdam’s red light district. Photo:

Two Christian parties and the Labour party (PvdA) are calling on the cabinet to help sex workers who find themselves in financial trouble because of the coronavirus crisis and the ban on ‘contact work’ – which has been extended until at least May 20.

‘Despite repeated requests, nothing has yet been done, even though many prostitutes do not even have money to eat,’ the ruling Christian Democrats and ChristenUnie, and the opposition PvdA say in a series of joint questions to ministers.

The cabinet must now take action on behalf of this currently ‘extremely vulnerable group’, the parties say in their statement.

We have to ‘stop them seeing no alternative but to opt for illegality,’ Labour MP Attje Kuiken said on Twitter. ‘We have to step in before human traffickers and other criminals do so.’

Brothel owners

The MPs have also asked ministers to explain if it is correct that brothel owners can apply for financial help under the various government schemes but that prostitutes are excluded, even if they are registered with the KvK.

Lobby group Prostitutes Information Center said on Twitter it is ‘shocking’ how many sex workers who are working legally and paying tax are being excluded from official help.

They have launched a questionnaire for sex workers in an effort to establish the size of the problem.

Although sex workers are supposed to register at the Chamber of Trade (KvK) and pay taxes, many are unregistered and therefore not eligible for any of the current support measures for the self-employed. Non-EU nationals without papers are also excluded from any financial support.

The three parties have also called on the government to block websites offering sexual services during the crisis and to make sure that projects to help sex workers leave the industry have enough funding.

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