The coronavirus has affected workplaces across the country, especially those who work in casual work and the gig economy. Normally, most workplaces have the option of one taking leave while others have opted to close down but still get paid. This, however, is not the case for sex workers. With social distancing insisted upon by the government, sex workers are feeling the stark economic impacts of COVID-19.
“Most of our hotspots were bars and now the government has ordered that they are closed by 7 pm. I mostly get my clients after 10 pm. This is a really big blow for us as sex workers”
“Monicah”, a female sex worker.
Mbathaa says that with hotspots closed there is no money to cater to her basic needs like food, rent, etc. When asked about her opinion on staying at home, she replies, “sisi kama sex workers tunaambiwa tukae kwa nyumba tukule nini?”(We are being asked to stay at home. How will we get money for food?)
“I did not expect my child to be back home, now my budget has risen” Esther* says. Given the stigma that surrounds sex work, it is often difficult to access mainstream services when in a crisis. Many are concerned about how they will cope in the coming months.
“I have a son, I recently offered a friend shelter at my house as she looks for a job that can sustain her. Work was going well as I was able to provide. However, with this Coronavirus, I no longer know what to do. Work is low.” “Eunice” says.
“Working right now is also risky, I am prone to acquiring the virus from a client”, she adds. In conclusion, conducting sex work during this pandemic can be very challenging to most.