In response to a new COVID-19 surge in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has now ordered already-struggling sex workers to shut down their businesses for at least the next two weeks.
A spokesperson for the sex worker lobbying group Red Light
United told DutchNews:
It is very quiet in the red light district, there are no tourists and hardly anyone on the streetsMany of our workers are in enormous financial difficulty.
announced the new lockdown on Tuesday, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the business restrictions would include sex clubs, but not other close-contact businesses, such as hair salons.
It's going to be a bleak winter for
Europe. But for sex workers, a group that feels it's been forgotten during the pandemic, the return of lockdowns doesn't just mean being out of work, it could also mean being once again cut off from vital health services. As the first wave of coronavirus
hit the Continent, many countries implemented complete bans on sex work.
Sex workers in Thailand have launched a petition calling for prostitution to be decriminalised and urging authorities to remove all penalties for selling and buying sex.
Empower Foundation, a group that supports sex workers, said it hoped to collect
10,000 signatures and present the petition to parliament to help persuade lawmakers.
Sex work is commonplace in Thailand and is generally tolerated but anti-prostitution laws are still on the law book and are occasionally revisited when the
authorities fancy a crackdown or else the police fancy a donation.
Women and LGBT+ rights activists say the current law, which made prostitution illegal in 1960, does little to protect sex workers, while repeated arrests and fines for doing sex work
has driven them further into poverty.
Thailand's extensive sex industry, largely caters to Thai men, but attracts international attention via go-go bars and massage parlours that cater for foreign visitors. A 2014 report by the U.N. agency fighting
AIDS estimated that there were 123,530 sex workers in Thailand but advocacy groups put the figure at more than twice that number.
Adult prostitution is currently punishable by a fine of up to 40,000 baht ($1,274) or two years in prison, or both.
More than 24,000 people were arrested, prosecuted and fined for sex work-related offences in Thailand last year, according to the Thai Police.
Sex workers feel less safe, more stigmatised and in greater fear of gardai since a law criminalising the purchase of sex was enacted, a report from Maynooth university warns.
Commissioned by HIV Ireland, the study looks at how the Part 4 of the Sexual
Offences Act (2017) has impacted sex workers.
The report, which HIV Ireland is submitting to a government review of the legislation, says:
The findings ... point to the negative impact of current laws on the abilities
of sex workers to keep safe and reduce harms to their health and well-being, in line with mounting evidence from other jurisdictions where sex buyer laws are in place.
While some international women's groups and radical feminists
support the utility of such sex purchase laws to send a symbolic message on sexual behaviour there is little consideration of the impact on sex workers' safety.
The report, by Dr Paul Ryan and Dr Kathryn McGarry, of the Department of
Sociology at Maynooth University, calls for the law to be repealed, to recognise the reality of sex work and keep those involved in it safe.
Sex workers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and in other northern jurisdictions, filed court cases to force local officials to lift a coronavirus ban on sex workers.
On Tuesday, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia
agreed that with similar close contact businesses open, there was no rationale to keep brothels closed. The court found no clear evidence that one-on-one sexual activity carried a higher risk of transmission than indoor gatherings of up to 150 people,
which are allowed under Germany's current coronavirus health regulations .
While sex workers in North Rhine-Westphalia -- whose capital is Dusseldorf and largest city is Cologne -- may return to work this week, their counterparts in Hamburg and
Bremen, where courts also overturned the ban, may resume their activities on September 15.
But the court ruling did not come soon enough for Cologne's Pascha mega-brothel, which according to a Mirror newspaper report , was so devastated by the
shutdown that it has now filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors, putting 100 sex workers and dozens of support staff in the 11-story facility out of work.