Migrant Sex Worker Needs and Rights in Light of COVID-19

As Coronovirus continues to spread at an unprecedented rate across the world, TAMPEP shares in grave concern for all sex workers, particularly those who are migrant and are facing additional pressures with regards to loss of livelihood, homelessness, restrictions on movement, lack of recourse to public and state funds, and continued fears over immigration enforcement and detention.

The efforts of sex workers and other human rights based organisations to combat these grave consequences of the Virus on our communities show our community resilience and connectedness at a time when it is needed most. We must also continue to challenge the structures and borders that prevent migrant sex workers from accessing state financial, healthcare and social support available to others. Migrant sex workers are continuing to fear repercussions based on insecure residency status and inability to work, at a time when human survival depends on protecting our most vulnerable.

At this time, we must unify in our demands for the protection and support of migrant persons and sex workers. In light of COVID-19, TAMPEP calls for urgent actions to ensure the safety of migrant sex workers;

TAMPEP calls on Governments across Europe to;

  • ensure access to healthcare of migrants – this means immediately suspending all health charging and data sharing with immigration and other law enforcement, and launching a public information campaign that makes clear that healthcare services are available and safe for all migrants to use and all potentially criminalised communities
  • ensure all migrant persons have access to vital public services by suspending any ‘No Recourse To Public Funds’ conditions
  • make assurances that no one will be penalised for engaging in criminalised work when trying to access state services and provisions
  • make sure no one is held in breach of temporary visa conditions because of being self-isolated or unable to return to a country that is not safe to travel to, by extending or modifying visas
  • release everyone detained under immigration powers to reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering the detention centres and causing avoidable harm
  • provide specialist support for those housed in shared accommodations including many migrant and mobile sex workers who have become homeless due to workplaces closing and to enable safe access to medical services, testing
  • ensure all persons who rely on income generated from sex work are included in emergency financial measures regardless of laws surrounding this form of labour

The effects of the pandemic are worrying for everyone, and for the community we advocate for  – migrant sex workers and sex workers generally – the effects have already been catastrophic. We must continue to share national and local updates to highlight these effects and sex worker led support efforts. The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) are compiling a Statement that covers these areas that we urge all sex workers and sex workers’ rights activists and allies to view and support. And we must unite to demand equal access to the support needed to collectively reduce the impact of COVID-19.

In Solidarity,


Photo Credit of Image used in News Story To Arika