Japan is trying to give sex workers in the country a leg up during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to media reports Kasatintin.com has sighted, Japan is offering financial aid to members of the oldest profession whose daily source of income has ceased amid social distancing protocols.
The country’s central government is said to have launched a massive stimulus package worth about 108 trillion Japanese yen — nearly $1 trillion — to bolster the country during the impending economic downturn.
Initially, sex workers weren’t included in the stimulus package. Activists were very unhappy about this ‘occupational discrimination’.
This sparked a massive pushback from activists and opposition members as the hashtag #NightWorkIsAlsoWork went viral on social media.
‘I wonder when this country started ranking people’s lives, said one tweet. ‘Do you abandon single mothers who work in the night business and people who need to work for a living? Stop being prejudiced, stop discriminating based on people’s jobs, stop being misogynistic.’
One Japanese advocacy organisation, Sex Work And Sexual Health (SWASH) also piled pressure on the Japanese government to do something about the plight of the night workers who have been forced to stay at home due to the COVID19 pandemic.
In a letter to the government on April 2, 2020 SWASH said:
‘Do not exclude sex workers from receiving support money. We want sex workers and their children to be protected, like other workers and their children.’
The public outcry yielded positive results. Sex workers are now eligible to apply for aid, under certain conditions — a move some activists have hailed as a sign of progress for an industry that has long suffered social stigma.
But for many sex workers, the package offers little reassurance — and its rules for eligibility seem opaque and restrictive. Some aren’t really sure how to apply for benefits without effectively outing themselves.
Prostitution, or the exchange of sexual interc0urse for money, is criminalized in Japan — but other types of sex work are legal.
The sex industry in Japan generates an estimated $24 billion a year, according to Havocscope, a research organization on the global black market.
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