Sex workers’ rights group cruelly denied government funding unless it admits sex work ‘is inherently exploitative’
A sex workers’ rights group in Ireland has been denied government funding unless it admits that “prostitution is inherently exploitative of vulnerable people”.
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) was given the stark message by the country’s Department of Justice when it inquired about emergency funding for sex workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Irish Examiner reports.
A department spokesperson told the group: “I want to make it clear that funding is not available for NGOs whose objectives and philosophy is opposed to these values and principles.”
The spokesperson added: “If your organisation considers that you do share our understanding of prostitution as inherently exploitative of vulnerable people, then it is of course open to you to submit a formal application for funding.”
Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) was forced to crowdfund to support workers throughout the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on sex workers across the world, with many finding themselves unable to making a living safely.
But sex workers were excluded from Ireland’s pandemic unemployment payment, meaning many sought financial help from SWAI instead.
If your organisation considers that you do share our understanding of prostitution as inherently exploitative of vulnerable people, then it is of course open to you to submit a formal application for funding.
Since coronavirus began to spread rapidly across the world in March, 160 new sex workers have approached the non-profit for support.
The organisation said that half of sex workers in Ireland were still seeing clients during lockdown, with many doing so because of financial constraints.
SWAI has said they were forced to crowdfund to support sex workers during the pandemic because the Irish government refused to offer financial assistance.
Sex workers are facing ‘financial hardship’ due to COVID-19.
In a statement released in March, Kate McGrew, director of SWAI, said sex workers would face “financial hardship, increased vulnerability, destitution or homelessness” as COVID-19 began its rapid spread.
“The clandestine nature of sex work also means that many will be unable to access the safeguards provided for other workers, such as sick pay.”
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She continued: “Many sex workers come from communities that already face high levels of marginalisation and social exclusion including women living in poverty, migrants and refugees, trans people and drug users.
“Sex workers who are the primary earners in their families, or who don’t have alternative means of support are at risk of being forced into more precarious and dangerous situations to survive.”
Many LGBT+ people across the world who make a living from sex work have been vocal about the challenges the pandemic has posed for their work.
In March, the English Collective of Prostitutes demanded that sex work be decriminalised as many faced financial uncertainty during the pandemic.