The wellbeing of our community is SWOP’s top priority, therefore we have discontinued all in person services such as street outreach, in person research, and speaking engagements until it is deemed safe to do so. As Executive Director of SWOP Sacramento, I say this with a heavy heart as many in the US and around the world have to work in order to survive. For those, social distance is truly not an option, period. Staying in is an impossibility, as they have no “in” to go to. Thus, our most marginalized sex workers who identify as homeless will be the hardest hit. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) will not even be in the forefront of their mind as procuring food and shelter will be their most vital mission. And yet, sex workers are in contact with the community. The result of pushing sex work underground is damaging for the worker and their community. These workers are off the grid therefore, there will be no bail out or help for them. This would not be the case if sex work were decriminalized. In fact this alone should be reason enough for decriminalization to occur. No one, should be afraid to seek medical attention, and yet for sex workers this is a daily struggle. Because of fear and discrimination from many in the medical community we avoid medical help until it is imperative. This is not healthy for the individual or the community in which they belong. Any time a labor force is arrested for simply going to work, we create a hotbed for exploitation and collateral damage. If Sex workers are afraid to report rapes, violence, and exploitation, they will definitely be afraid to report being ill. It’s time we change this. It’s time we stood together to demand the decriminalization of all consensual sex work in the United States.
In this time of crisis, SWOP Sacramento will continue to roll out usable services to meet the needs of our most marginalized sex workers in the Sacramento area. We are still setting this up as we have to work out some of the logistics so that social distancing still occurs and everyone stays safe. In the mean time, we will be continuing our research project with UC Davis and will move our interviews to the phone. Workers will be paid $25 for the time and expertise and a $15 hardship stipend due to the extreme pressures of Covid-19. In the meantime, please stay safe, wash your hands, and do your best to maintain personal distance whenever possible. Consider camming or a phone service such as niteflirt whenever able. For more information about our grants email [email protected] or simply call 916-390-7107. All interviews are completely anonymous and cash can be picked up at a safe location. In the mean time, our heart goes out to those engaged in survival and those who are ill. May this be over soon and may our communities unite and become stronger.