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Retail, restaurant, hospitality and arts workers—and all kinds of professionals whose livelihoods are tied to in-person meetings—are currently suffering from coronavirus-related job cuts. The U. Private Sector Job Quality Index estimates that 37 million jobs are vulnerable to layoffs due to social distancing measures to slow the spread of the pandemic.
While many white collar workers continue to labor from home, one group facing particularly acute challenges are sex workers, whose work is often illegal, in legal gray areas or not covered by unemployment laws. There are sex workers of all income levels and identities, but many come from marginalized communities and have trouble accessing other forms of employment, says Maxine Holloway, co-founder of the advocacy organization Bay Area Workers Support BAWS.
A collective of sex workers, BAWS lobbies for the decriminalization of sex work and shares peer-to-peer resources. They also issued a guide for those coping with a loss of income during the COVID outbreak, complete with health tips and strategies for remote work during social distancing. Similar efforts are taking place across the country: the Sex Worker Outreach Projecta national advocacy group, is organizing mutual aid fundraisers for sex workers in places like Los AngelesAustin and New Yorkand sex workers in Las Vegas have been fundraising via crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe.
James Infirmary and the Berkeley Free Clinic. But clinics serving vulnerable populations are already strapped for resources, and the Berkeley Free Clinic actually closed its doors until April 2 to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, Berkeley Free Clinic has a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for its volunteers to set up hand-washing stations at homeless encampments and supply additional tents to allow unsheltered people to self-isolate.
Taking their work online through photos, videos, phone sex and videoconferencing is one way sex workers have been protecting themselves during the pandemic. But changing how one does business is not as easy as starting an on a website like OnlyFans, a subscription-based site that functions like a not-safe-for-work Twitter feed where users pay for additional X-rated content. Arabelle Raphael, an artist and sex worker with multiple streams of income that include virtual and in-person work, published a tutorial on her Twitter feed with tips for sex workers building an OnlyFans brand.
She says that there are barriers to entry: much like Instagram influencers, sex workers with existing online followings have an easier time monetizing their s than those starting from scratch. Her group, Hookers Army Los Angeles, typically teaches self-defense classes and has been moving meetings online to facilitate resource-sharing. Carlisle herself has been offering free workshops for self-soothing somatic techniques for anxiety relief on Instagram Live.
Sex workers have built networks for supporting one another, and can mobilize quickly, because the last few years have volatile for the industry, says Reiko Rasch, an artist and sex worker advocate in the Bay Area. Yet AB 5 has an upside, which is that dancers are now eligible for unemployment benefits.
Rasch says that on social media and in group texts, dancers have been helping each other navigate the bureaucracy. Are you safe? Are you taken care of? The BAWS guide encourages fans of sex workers to pre-book sessions, donate to them directly or simply just check in with them, as the isolating experience of self-quarantining combined with financial stress can be daunting.
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Always free. In. KQED Inform. Save Article Save Article. Nastia Voynovskaya. Mar 25, Failed to save article Please try again. The Challenges of Taking Business Online Taking their work online through photos, videos, phone sex and videoconferencing is one way sex workers have been protecting themselves during the pandemic.
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