Sex workers are a resilient bunch and will get through the devastating impact of the coronavirus lockdown, an advocate says.

Since the country entered alert level 4 on March 25, the New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective had asked workers to stop physical contact sex.

While it recognised sex work was the main form of income for a number of people, it had not been classed among the essential services.

NZPC spokeswoman Dame Catherine Healy. Photo / Mark Mitchell
NZPC spokeswoman Dame Catherine Healy. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Sex workers were still getting requests from clients, NZPC spokeswoman Dame Catherine Healy said, but there were ways to get around the lockdown.


"Some sex workers have already diversified and had camcording services on offer and others are learning how to do this," she said.

However, much of these services required bank transactions, which were of major concern to sex workers.

"Transactions can sometimes reveal the [workers] real identity, that's a real fish hook for sex workers that others wouldn't think about," she said.

"You don't really want to have your identity revealed because of the stigma."

For those out of work and without income, the message was to seek help from the NZPC, Healy said.

Some had taken the option to be paid out in terms of the wages subsidy and others had been connected through the job seekers allowance.

"[Workers] worry about names being recorded in formal government systems as sex workers because of the stigma," Healy said.

"We say, 'look, there's a way through this' and of course the government respects privacy in this regard."


Information about where to get help during the lockdown was available for sex workers on the NZPC website.

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The website also told workers who failed to follow the strict lockdown rules could result in officials enforcing compliance.

Healy was not aware of anything else which had impacted the industry as much as the impact coronavirus had but said sex workers were resilient.

"Who amongst us could say this is an experience they've lived through?" she said.

"You know the resilience of sex workers ... longer than any occupation around most likely. Sex workers have ridden through all sorts of horrible circumstances."