Food tickets for sex workers 'not enough' to survive Brussels prostitution ban

Food tickets for sex workers 'not enough' to survive Brussels prostitution ban
Credit: Belga/K. Van Accom

The food tickets that the French Community Commission (COCOF) is financing for sex workers in Brussels will "definitely not be enough" to survive the Covid-19 crisis, according to sex worker organisation UTSOPI.

In response to a demand for financial support from sex workers following Brussels latest ban on sex work in the Region, the COCOF released a budget to offer food tickets for those who found themselves without an income overnight, announced COCOF Minister-President Barbara Trachte.

However, UTSOPI, the union for sex workers in Belgium, said that, while all support is welcome, the promised tickets will "definitely not be enough" to help all sex workers in need, a spokesperson told The Brussels Times.

"We are receiving a lot of requests from sex workers who are struggling hard in these times," she said. "We have also started a crowdfunding campaign again, but we cannot raise enough money for all of them."

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UTSOPI also said that, even though the announcement was made last Friday, they have not yet received any of the food tickets, and are not sure when they will arrive. "Maybe next week. We do not know when we will get them yet. We hope soon," the spokesperson said.

Additionally, the food tickets will "definitely be needed" to make sure that people stay fed during the coronavirus lockdown, "but they do not pay the rent," she added.

Until at least 19 November, Brussels banned all forms of sex work are banned, including on the streets, in the so-called “rendez-vous hotels,” and in windows.

For sex workers, there is very little difference between the first lockdown and what is happening now. Just like during the first lockdown, rent still has to be paid, meaning that sex work will still continue if workers do not receive sufficient support, according to the organisation.

“Since September, there have been very few clients, which makes the situation even more difficult,” Daan Bauwens of UTSOPI said last week. “If they do not receive the necessary support, they will still work and then it becomes dangerous. Both for sex workers and for clients, and therefore for the population."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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