COVID-19: women engaged in prostitution

We recognise that women engaged in prostitution are a non-shielding marginalised group, meaning that they are at increased risk of deprivation due to lockdown and of infection through face to face contact. The Scottish Government’s public health response to COVID-19 aims to protect the health of individual people in non-shielding marginalised groups and to support the public health measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Women engaged in prostitution face additional risks and barriers to support during the COVID-19 crisis, including increased risk of poverty, fuel poverty and/or food insecurity.  In addition some women feel a stigma in approaching mainstream or support services in fear of judgement and prejudice. It is important that local support and mainstream services are accessible and visible during the current period of restrictions. Equally Safe, Scotland’s strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls, adopts the position that prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation is a form of gendered violence but also recognises that all women engaged in prostitution deserve the support of services without fear of judgement and discrimination.

To stay healthy during the current crisis women engaged in prostitution should follow published public health guidance which sets out clear messaging to stay at home and not engage with anyone outside of their immediate household, except for limited purposes. This guidance is linked below. Local authorities, statutory partners and support services can provide appropriate help and support to enable compliance with these public health guidelines.

Guidance that may be relevant for women engaged in prostitution, or organisations who work to support them, can be found at the following pages: