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In a development police appear powerless to stop, hundreds of advertisements for private sex workers are appearing on popular sites, a number of them citing the extra measures the escorts are taking to provide intimate services safely. One online ad for a male sex worker in Melbourne reassured clients that hand wash and sanitiser would be provided on arrival.
Another assured customers: "Usually I work for If you are fine, clean and safe so we're fine. Sex workers say that while many private escorts are opting not to work for the safety of themselves and the community, others felt they had no choice because they needed the money to survive.
This escort says he disinfects all 'high touch' surfaces between clients. The trend highlights another challenge authorities face in keeping people socially separated amid the global pandemic, particularly when it comes to consensual sex and unlicensed sections of the adult industry.
Many of the online ads seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald appeared within hours of new measures ordering the closure of brothels and other licensed sex venues, which kicked in at midnight on Thursday. However, while some sex workers and clients are flouting social distancing rules, others are following government directives, resulting in financial hardship for many.
The national peak body for the industry, Scarlet Alliance, has also created a public fund to support sex workers to stay housed and fed during the crisis. Much of the private escort industry is not formally licensed, partly due to the stigma associated with being a sex worker and because of the complex maze that people must navigate in order to be registered. Street prostitution, meanwhile, is illegal. As of 9pm on Wednesday, 88 spot checks had been completed in Victoria of which 12 people who were supposed to be in isolation were found to not be home.