In response to a new COVID-19 surge in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has now ordered already-struggling sex workers to shut down their businesses for at least the next two weeks.
A spokesperson for the sex worker lobbying group Red Light
United told DutchNews:
It is very quiet in the red light district, there are no tourists and hardly anyone on the streetsMany of our workers are in enormous financial difficulty.
announced the new lockdown on Tuesday, and Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the business restrictions would include sex clubs, but not other close-contact businesses, such as hair salons.
It's going to be a bleak winter for
Europe. But for sex workers, a group that feels it's been forgotten during the pandemic, the return of lockdowns doesn't just mean being out of work, it could also mean being once again cut off from vital health services. As the first wave of coronavirus
hit the Continent, many countries implemented complete bans on sex work.
A Sydney sex shop owner has revealed how an idea created to help her store survive lockdown has turned into a money-maker, with the shop citing doubled revenues.
The idea was born during Australia's total lockdown of non-essential shops. Eloise
Monaghan, the founder of Honey Birdette, explained:
I was frightened for my brand but it made us think, 'right, what can we do?'
So we did virtual appointments, Zoom rooms, Insta rooms, virtual
erotic book readings -- but private appointments were the COVID option that really emerged as a banger.
Honey Birdette revealed it doubled its revenue by closing its doors to the public and opening up for private shopping experiences.
Customers are then given a glass of champagne on arrival and the privacy to explore everything the label has to offer, with the limited number of guests ensuring COVID-Safe practices are upheld.
The idea proved so popular, Honey Birdette voluntarily
closed the doors of a store to the public altogether, only accepting private bookings made through the brand's website.
In the next few months a new appointment-only store will open and it's only the beginning for the global brand, with plans to roll
it out in other cities and countries.
The UK Government has changed the law to dictate that couples in an established relationship are now banned from intimate meetings (unless they live together or are in a support bubble). Previous incarnations of coronavirus restrictions offered
exemptions fro people in an established relationship but these have been dropped from rules imposed on areas classed as high or very high risk areas (applying to about half of the people in England).
Downing Street has confirmed that couples living
apart in areas under these tougher restrictions can only meet outdoors. And, if the prospect of outdoor-only encounters during the bitter winter months was not grim enough, Boris Johnson's official spokesman clarified that they are not even meant to
touch each other under social distancing rules.
Asked if couples living apart in tier 2 areas can see each other indoors, the prime minister's official spokesman said on Friday:
The rules on household mixing in tier 2,
I think, set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you've formed a support bubble, and that obviously does apply to some couples.
The prime minister's spokesman clarified that the restrictions were set out in
law. Asked why an exemption for established relationships was not written into the law for those in tiers 2 and 3, Johnson's spokesman added:
Because the purpose of the measures we've put in place is to break the chain
of transmission between households, and the scientific advice is that there is greatest transmission of the virus indoors.
I don't suppose the Government will be publishing daily statistics about compliance with such miserable and
La Chambre is a very well known swinger's club in Sheffield. It has announced that after a year of coronavirus lockdown it is closing down at the current venue but hopes to find somewhere else in the future. A Facebook post explains:
As most clubs like ours have had to close due to COVID, it has proven to be a difficult time for us all and sadly we are starting to see some clubs making the awful decision to close their doors for ever.
We have been reviewing our own club a long with government guideline to see what we can do ourselves, we have thought about every possible way that we can think of to get back up and running but each time we hit hurdle after hurdle that prevents it. So
firstly we would like to announce that Marie and Barry, (The Oldest Swingers in Town) are hanging up their swinging shoes, whips and chains and slipping into the wonderful world of retirement.
We have taken a long hard look at La
Chambre and like most clubs it make financial sense to remain closed as we lose less money than we would if we opened. We don't see the point in paying for something that we are not using, so have decided not to renew our lease on our current building
while we are unable to open, which will continue for the next 6 months under the current government guide lines.
We are going to use this time to look for a new build that we feel will be more suitable and give us more options to
open and also give us a chance to bring La Chambre a whole new lease of life.
Sex workers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and in other northern jurisdictions, filed court cases to force local officials to lift a coronavirus ban on sex workers.
On Tuesday, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia
agreed that with similar close contact businesses open, there was no rationale to keep brothels closed. The court found no clear evidence that one-on-one sexual activity carried a higher risk of transmission than indoor gatherings of up to 150 people,
which are allowed under Germany's current coronavirus health regulations .
While sex workers in North Rhine-Westphalia -- whose capital is Dusseldorf and largest city is Cologne -- may return to work this week, their counterparts in Hamburg and
Bremen, where courts also overturned the ban, may resume their activities on September 15.
But the court ruling did not come soon enough for Cologne's Pascha mega-brothel, which according to a Mirror newspaper report , was so devastated by the
shutdown that it has now filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors, putting 100 sex workers and dozens of support staff in the 11-story facility out of work.
Britain's sex industry is still far from normal as prostitutes slowly start to work the streets again and brothels begin reopening in the wake of lockdown. But demand from Brits is not what it was before the pandemic, as many appear hesitant to get their
Laura Watson has been involved with the English Collective of Prostitutes for 10 years. The group represent sex worker across the country. She explained that:
There are still clients out there -- during
lockdown that obviously decreased and it is not like it is anything near normal, but there is a demand out there. It's women's need for money that fuels the industry -- women go into it for financial aid.
It was reported that just
one-in-three sex workers continued to meet up face to face during lockdown. Others took their business online using web cams.
Research on one adult website showed that thousands of escorts and sex workers are now listing themselves as available. One
website appeared to have 21,827 escorts on its books. And there were 10,000 in London alone, with other popular areas including 1,341 in Manchester and 1,630 in Birmingham.
It hasn't gone back to
normal in that women have put whatever safety procedures they can in place. All the measures that the Government have deemed safe, including social distancing when they can, and the general measures have been mainly implicated. I think women are trying
their best to keep as safe as possible. It's understood that some women have used paper bed sheets and extra sanitisers in a bid to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.
Rome's last adult movie cinema, the Ambasciatori (Ambassador), reopened its doors after the end of the coronavirus lockdown in Italy.
The adult cinema says it is sure to overcome its latest challenge in surviving the lockdown.
has returned to showing vintage pornographic films to the delight of its customers albeit now with social distancing measures in place.
We will survive Covid, Carlo, the Ambasciatori's supervisor and cinema manager, tells AFP. A lot of
customers are calling us to find out when they can come back, he adds.
Wearing surgical masks, around a dozen customers, all of them male, take their scattered places on velvet seats in a magnificent black marbled room. Boasting 400 seats and a large
upstairs balcony, the theatre exudes a vintage atmosphere.
Directors UK, the trade association for screen directors in Britain, suggested some miserable alternatives to avoid sex scenes with physical interaction while social distancing is required, in an update to its Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex
The guidelines suggest that characters could be shown fixing their own clothes/re-dressing after the event or limbs could be depicted moving under bedclothes, while another option is to show the closing of a bedroom door and leave the
action to the viewer's imagination.
Directors are encouraged to find inspiration by revisiting classic films such as It Happened One Night or Casablanca , which were made under the Hays Code that was introduced in the 1930s and
prohibited the depiction of sex on screen in Hollywood.
Bill Anderson, who has directed episodes of Doctor Who and was part of the team who has worked on the guidelines. He said that directors and writers would have to come up with
different ways to show intimacy, and he encouraged programme makers to question whether a sex scene is absolutely necessary.
For productions that require sex scenes, alternative ideas from the guidelines include motion capture and digital
performances, green screen or animation to composite the required encounter and another suggested option is casting real life couples who won't need to socially distance.
Update: No Sex
Please, We're British Filmmakers
We've said it before, and we'll probably say it again, but there is little doubt that moralisers and neo-puritans are rubbing their hands together at the possibilities that Covid-19 has presented them.
Sex workers in Germany are appealing to politicians to ease coronavirus restrictions that have prevented them from working during the pandemic. Sex workers have taken their complaints to the streets, in demonstrations in Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and
There are growing reports of sex workers being subjected to violence, underpayment and being forced to compromise their health because of clients' demands during meetings in non-formal settings.
This week, Berlin's government appeared
to give way to their demands after announcing a graduated return to sexual services without intercourse. From 1 September, intercourse will be allowed to take place between sex workers and their clients in the German capital, but only under strict
hygiene regulations. Sex workers operating in Germany's 15 other states hope the governments there will soon follow suit.
The Federal Association of Erotic and Sex Services has accused lawmakers of failing to address the concerns of sex workers
because of the stigma attached to the industry, while giving hairdressers, tattoo parlours, massage and beauty salons, fitness studios, saunas and swinger clubs the green light to reopen weeks ago. They point out that in neighbouring Switzerland,
the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic, brothels are being allowed to operate again.
Canada's province of British Columbia have issued guidelines recommending the use of glory holes as a method of COVID-safe sex.
Previously New York guidelines suggested the use of barriers to avoid risky, face-to-face contact during sex, B.C. health
officials have specifically recommended glory holes to allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.
The B.C. health officials say that sexual partners should wear facial masks during their activities specifically because heavy
breathing during sex can create more droplets that may transmit COVID-19.
Germany has been releasing most businesses from coronavirus lockdown but the country's sex work industry remains banned. Brothels and similar sex-related businesses have been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic -- though other close-contact
businesses such as nail salons and massage therapy parlors have been permitted to reopen.
In response, a group of sex workers in Berlin staged a protest on Friday, wielding an inflatable sex doll outside the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany's
parliament. The protesters also brandished placards with slogans including, Let us work, Open the brothels now , and Our sector is being driven underground.
The Federal Association for Erotic and Sex Services, a trade association and
lobbying group for the sex industry, said that the sex workers seem to have been forgotten by politicians. The trade group called the continued shutdown of the sex industry incomprehensible in view of the developments in other sectors.
Brothels will be allowed to re-open in Austria on 1 July, in an easing of coronavirus restrictions. The health ministry is working with groups representing the country's 8,000 registered sex workers to develop hygiene measures, according to the Austria
Elsewhere in Europe, the Netherlands also plans to reopen brothels on 1 July.
Those in Greece opened last week. Rules brought in by the Greek government include card-only payments, a time limit of 15 minutes per customer, compulsory
face masks and workers taking a list of clients' contact details in case they need to be traced.
All television and radio adverts for gaming are set to be removed during the Covid-19 lockdown by members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) in a voluntary move by the gambling industry trade body. The measure will run from May 7 to at least
June 5, but in princip lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
Existing advertising slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts permitted.
The UK government has been putting
pressure on the betting industry to do more to protect vulnerable punters during the lockdown. Advertising for sports betting will be reviewed separately
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, sex workers who have gone online to make a living are discovering the market is saturated with performers, whilst at the same time many subscribers are canceling their subscriptions due to their own financial
According to Newsweek reporter Ewan Palmer's article , established online performers are losing customers or receiving
less money from fans who are experiencing their own financial struggles as the economy continues to spiral downward. As many go online to make ends meet, those without an existing online profile are finding a glut of performers and difficulty trying to
In addition, American sex workers are barred from the government's effort to help small businesses whose incomes were severely impacted by the pandemic. The Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Program prohibits anyone who
presents live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derives their income from the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature from receiving benefits.
Japan has reportedly reversed its decision to discriminate against sex workers who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CNN has reported that Health and Labor Minister Kazunobu Kato declared that Japan's legal sex workers will be
eligible to receive government assistance as part of the nation's economic relief package.
Japan's original COVID-19 relief plan initially barred sex workers, along with bars, restaurants and gangsters, from receiving any economic aid and was
widely criticized for being discriminatory in its application
The financial relief will be paid to businesses and it is still unclear how self-employed sex workers would be treated under the new plan.
British MPs have claimed that that measures to reform and regulate the porn industry have faltered, putting vulnerable people at risk.
Last year attempts to introduce age verification systems into open access porn sites to stop children being able to
access extreme online content stalled, and MPs are warning that regulation proposed in a new online harms bill, currently at consultation stage in parliament, does not go far enough.
Tracy Brabin, the shadow culture secretary, whinged:
The online harms bill doesn't go far enough. We have to get control over this industry, said We have a duty of care to young people whose videos are being shared who might not want them shared, and ... to potential
victims of sex trafficking and rape.
MPs from both sides of the political divide agree. Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the women and equalities committee, said: These are hugely important issues and [the online harms bill] is
taking too long, we have been talking about this for two years now. She said the promised duty of care should include a way to hold companies to account if unlawful material is posted.
Activist Laila Mickelwait, part of a group of activists at Exodus
Cry, told the Guardian: Pornhub handing out 'free' premium content is a way for them to cash in on those around the world impacted by the pandemic. Pornhub is collecting an incredible amount of user data including IP addresses by allowing web beacons and
other special information targeting technology on all user devices, and monetising it for their own gain.
The popular porn website Pornhub has made its premium services free till April 3. Initially the offer was restricted to covid hotspots Italy, Spain, and France, but noe the service has been made free all over the world.
PornHub has has also announced
that it will be donating a portion of its income to helping out with the coronavirus crisis.
Pornhub also released a chart showing how porn viewing has increased at the time of lockdown.
Since the COVID 19 outbreak became a fast-spreading pandemic, governments from across the globe have implemented new policies to help slow the spread of the virus.
In addition to closing borders to non-citizens, many governments
have also mobilized digital surveillance technologies to track and contain visitors and citizens alike.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong government announced that all new arrivals to the city must undergo two weeks of self-quarantine,
while wearing an electronic wristband that connects to a location tracking app on their phones.
If the app detects changes in the person's location, it will alert the Department of Health and the police. Prior to this new policy,
only people who had recently visited Hubei province in China were required to wear a monitoring wristband during their quarantine period.
While surveillance technologies and measures may give the public a sense of security in
controlling the spread of the virus, we must remain mindful and vigilant of their continued use after the pandemic subsides.
European and North American countries like Italy, Spain, and the US are currently being hit hard by the
coronavirus. Meanwhile, Asian countries have been praised by international media for their swift responses and use of surveillance technologies to control the outbreak.
The Singaporean government, for example, implemented policies
that can effectively and rigorously trace a complex chain of contacts . As of February, anyone entering a government or corporate building in Singapore will have to provide their contact information.
In addition, the government
has been gathering a substantial amount of data detailing not only each known case of infection but also where the person lives, works and the network of contacts they are connected to.
While these measures have thus far seemed to
yield positive results, they have highlighted the technological capacity and power of the government to monitor the movements and lives of every individual.
In China, where Covid-19 was first detected, the government has been
deploying not only drastic lockdown policies but also a variety of surveillance technologies to ensure public compliance with self-quarantine and isolation.
In addition to using drones to monitor people's movements and ensure they
are staying home, police in five Chinese cities have taken to patrolling the streets wearing smart helmets equipped with thermal screening technologies that sound an alarm if a person's temperature is higher than the threshold.
The government has also collaborated with the company Hanwang Technology Limited to finesse their existing facial recognition technology, so that it can work even when the person is wearing a face mask
When connected to a temperature sensor and the Chinese government's existing database as well as state-level intel, this technology allows authorities to immediately identify the name of each person whose body temperature is above
38 degrees Celcius.
According to Hanwang Technology, this refined facial recognition technology can identify up to 30 people within a second.
While the use of surveillance technologies like these has been
effective in lowering the number of confirmed cases in China, it is not without risks.
Beyond the pandemic, both the Chinese government and the company have substantial interests in further developing and deploying this
technology: the government can make use of it to track and suppress political dissidents, and the company has much to gain financially.
This technology can also be co-opted by China's counterterrorism forces to further monitor and
regulate the movement of the Uighur people, who are categorised as terrorists by the Chinese government and are currently being forced into mass detention camps and subjected to forced labour.
Outside of Asia, Middle Eastern
countries like Israel and Iran have also been deploying similar surveillance technologies , citing the need to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The Israeli government now makes use of technologies developed for
counterterrorism to collect cellphone data, so that the government can trace people's contact network, and identify those who need to be quarantined.
The geolocation data gathered via people's phones will then be used to alert the
public where not to go based on the pattern of infection.
Not only is it unprecedented for Israel to deploy counterterrorism data to combat a public health crisis, but the existence of this data trove has also, according to the
New York Times , not been reported prior to this.
On March 6, researcher Nariman Gharib revealed that the Iranian government had been tracking its citizens' phone data through an app disguised as a coronavirus diagnostic tool.
Security expert Nikolaos Chrysaidos confirmed that the app collected sensitive personal information unrelated to the outbreak -- for example, the app recorded the bodily movements of the user the way a fitness tracker would.
Google has since removed the app from Google Play, but this case demonstrates the need for ongoing public vigilance over government use of surveillance technologies in the name of public health.
public health has historically been used as a justification for mainstream institutions and government authorities to stigmatise, monitor, and regulate the lives of marginalised people -- such as immigrants, racial minorities, LGBTQ+ people, and people
living in poverty.
If we do not hold our government accountable for its use of surveillance technologies during the current pandemic and beyond, we will be putting those who are already marginalised at further risks of regulation,
suppression, and persecution.
Most Germans are spending much more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means good news for some in the sex industry and bad news for others.
Rising sales figures at many online erotic shops suggest what some healthy Germans told to
lock down at home are doing in some of their free time. But on the flip side, the crisis is hitting the livelihoods of many sex workers hard.
Sex toys, for example, are selling particularly well. The number of orders placed with the online erotic
shop EIS has doubled since Covid-19 hit Germany in late January. Vibrators are particularly popular at the moment. A spokesperson for erotic outlet Orion said its online shop had also seen increased sales.
Erika Lust, a producer of feminist porn,
has reported that more people are viewing her films than usual. Since the outbreak, streaming times on her platforms have increased by 20 to 30% globally.
But for many sex workers in Germany and worldwide, the pandemic has had drastic
consequences. I simply don't have a job, said German sex worker Marlen, who did not want to give her full name. She has some money saved and could at least take a few weeks off. But others cannot afford to, even though the German federal and state
governments have decided to close brothels.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced countries into lockdown, and maybe sharing the time with a guaranteed virus free partner has its attractions. But just at the same time sex doll sellers are facing a shortage as most are are shipped in from Chinese
factories that themselves have been affected by lockdowns.
Jade Stanley, who owns a sex doll business called Sex Doll Official, revealed that there has been a major slowdown due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation in China. They've gone home, been
quarantined and been unable to return to factories.
The pandemic has also led to a worldwide increase in sales of sex toys. With the prospect of long periods at home either alone or with your partner, people are exploring new ways to make the best of
the time available.