Sex workers still at work despite corona ban

The coronavirus led to a remarkable first in Belgium: a ban on prostitution, but despite the ban sex workers are continuing to offer services.  Many are opting to organise appointments online.


Prostitution was banned as one of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  Despite the ban daily Gazet van Antwerpen discovered that many sex workers are continuing to offer services often via appointments made online.

Wendy Gabriëls of Violett, an organisation that provides medical and social support to sex workers spoke to VRT News: “Often sex workers are obliged to continue at work because they don’t qualify for unemployment benefit or for other benefits.”

These days the ‘Schipperskwartier’ of Antwerp, the city’s red light district is a pretty desolate place.  Few people are on the street and windows behind which sex workers often wait for custom remain empty.  However, many prostitutes are still at work.

Wendy Gabriëls: “They’ve lost their income.  They are doing this because they have no other choice. We tell them it’s not a good idea, but we do understand their plight. Often they have a family to keep.  You could also ask: who are these customers?  Responsibility rests with them too!”

Violett tries to contact sex workers online and offer assistance.

“Often these are foreign women, who do not understand the language.  They are lost in our administration and public services.  We tell them where they can get hold of a food parcel or see if we can mediate with their landlord to get a delay for their rent.”

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