Dear Home Secretary
Take Immediate Action to support the Prostituted due to Corona
I’m writing in support of Sarah Champion’s recent communication to the Home Office where she called for urgent Covid-19 action for perhaps the most vulnerable group of all – the estimated 100,000 in prostitution.
Women in the sex industry are already extremely vulnerable:
• 75% entered it as children
• 45% experienced prior childhood sexual abuse
• Once in the industry, 70% suffer extreme PTSD
• 90% have Class A drug dependance
• The mortality rate is 12 times higher than the national average
• 90% seek to leave but are often unable to
Corona puts the already extremely vulnerable at even more risk:
• Many will continue to see punters – with huge risk of social contagion
• Many have underlying physical conditions putting them at even greater risk
• If women see no or fewer punters, income is reduced/gone with no means to replace it
• Women from the industry who do self-isolate are often in abusive relationships (pimps/abusive partners)
• The ability to access support is not realistic due to poor mental health, drug dependancy and partner abuse
• Corona poverty is already driving an increase in women entering ’soft’ branches of the industry (there is now a spike in Web Camming). These are harmful in themselves and a feeder for full blown prostitution
• 70% of women in prostitution already cite ‘poverty’ as a major driver for entering the industry. Post Corona poverty means many more desperate women will be drawn into the sex trade.
Please ensure urgent action to support this extremely vulnerable group, including fully resourced exit support. This could mirror the action taken to house rough sleepers in hotels alongside specialist support (£10 million has been dedicated to this in Wales alone, £5million of this is for support services).
All action to support women out of the sex trade clearly has to go hand-in-hand with shutting down the industry to prevent re-entry or future entry by others, which simply continues the cycle of abuse. This means existing legislation against pimping, against brothel keeping and against punters buying sexual services from anyone who is coerced (essentially all those in the sex trade) has to, finally, be rigorously enforced.
I would further point out that this is not just an issue of extreme human cost – exiting women from the sex trade is even financially cost effective with the APPG on Prostitution indicating a 2:1 Return on Investment.
Thank you and I hope you can address this issue urgently.