Philly sex workers receive help from coronavirus relief fund

From Billy Penn —

Imagine there’s a deadly respiratory virus going around, and your line of work requires close contact with other people. Like, really close contact.
For sex workers, the coronavirus pandemic has been especially scary. If they decide to continue working in person, they put themselves at high risk. If they forgo close contact in favor of virtual dates, they substantially limit their income.

Raani Begum, a full-service sex worker in Philly, said she started to worry when all her usual neighborhoods emptied out. She lost contact with some regulars and relief organizations.

“It’s emotionally overwhelming, the visual aspect of it,” Begum said. “To walk through some of my old neighborhoods and think, ‘Where did all these people go?’ It’s alarming.”

During the global health crisis, Philadelphia has offered some guidance for sex workers: screen your clients for symptoms, clean your workspace, shower between sessions. Still, there’s no guarantee you won’t catch the virus. Health officials say the safest option is not to have sex with anyone outside your household.

Two mutual aid organizations jointly launched a relief fund for these Philadelphians who cannot easily access government assistance.

Over two months, the Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance and Project SAFE have raised nearly $50,000 to distribute to local sex workers. They’ve so far received 250 applications from people requesting help.

Lulu Duffy-Tumasz, the coordinator for Project SAFE’s delivery program, said a program like this is long overdue.

“Take the fact that most sex workers have been unsure if they can get any government programs that have been established for relief, and put on having to navigate criminalization, while also navigating being safe during COVID,” Duffy-Tumasz said.

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578390cookie-checkPhilly sex workers receive help from coronavirus relief fund

Philly sex workers receive help from coronavirus relief fund

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