Jamaican News

Sex Workers Losing Business Due To COVID

February 1, 2021 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |

As the fallout from the effects of COVID 19 continues to impact negatively on local and national economies  … it is the self employed workers at most levels in certain industries who are feeling the pinch. For example: sex workers aka prostitutes, motels, massage parlours also entertainment and and related industries to name a few seriously affected by the pandemic.  Our focus at this time is on sex workers who have complained that they got no stimulus or other assistance from the government. These folks have been left behind.  The pandemic has impacted them gravely.  A popular hang out spot known a “Back Road” is being described now as a ghost town. This is where sex workers ply their trade in abundance. This area or Red Light district is located near to a dormitory community known as Portmore, St. Catherine.  The normally busy strip that has many hotels and restaurants of varying sizes. Some of these so called hotels can best be described to as motels.  Most should really be classified as thus. They are normally used as short time sex or entertainment spots. The arrangement is usually for about two hours per rental.

Risky Sex

The sex business has taken a serious downward turn. You cannot maintain Social Distancing when you are having intimate relations or simply put sexual intercourse as we refer to such interactions.

Due to the downturn in business these sex workers are saying they are bankrupt. We are not able to pay our rent and support our families. They further say they are unable to get any clients.

Unprotected Sex

The sex workers further assert that their clients are pressuring them to have unprotected sex.  Meaning they are refusing to wear a condom sensing that these sex workers are not in a very strong bargaining position due to the scarcity of business. It is a vicious cycle out there. People are cruel, they are trying to exploit an already bad situation. Shameful indeed!

Care Packages

Sex Workers Association

They have formed themselves into an association to advocate for better working conditions, to be seen as productive members of the society and to protect their rights. A representative of their association said that care packages were distributed to these sex workers from the Sex Workers Association.

Dr Karen Carpenter, a sex therapist and Talk Show Host opined:

“Jamaica is not a Christian country, there is a lot of hypocrisy.  These sex workers are productive members of the society.”

The pandemic has caused unemployment to soar.  Statistics released points to the following:

Unemployment 14 Percent for women and 12 percent for men.

This is a sharp contrast to 2019 figures which had a record low of 7.8 percent unemployment. The pandemic has changed all that.

Dr. Karen Carpenter further stated:

“Sex workers should be respected. It is hard work and they have bills to pay.”

Care Packages

Responding to complaints about these sex workers not being awarded COVID assistance, a public official whose name was not ascertained stated that:

“These workers could not be identified as they did not have IDs and classifying them for grants was impossible …”

We hope their situation will get some attention. They are humans too and deserve our love and support.

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a veteran journalist who has international exposure.

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