Dutch sex workers’ everyday security and the impact of COVID-19

María Inés Cubides Kovacsics, Karin Astrid Siegmann and Wáleri Santos

On 22 December 2020, the International Institute of Social Studies hosted a presentation on '"When something happens, they don't help": Sex workers’ everyday security in the Netherlands and the impact of COVID-19' by María Inés Cubides Kovacsics and Wáleri Santos.

The presentation focused on the lack of work security, both before and after the Coronavirus pandemic, and the role of the operators of windows for sex work in it. 

The statement by one of the research participants: "... if you have 10 clients per day, with a single sheet … and the towels remain the same, they are never changed, no sheet is changed, nothing is changed. [The Covid-19-related] security protocol, it does not exist" reflects some of the exacerbated insecurities that sex workers have experienced amidst the pandemic.

The presentation audience included students and researchers from different universities and sex work-related organizations in the Netherlands. They were curious about the potential for pro-sex worker monitoring of working conditions, sex workers’ entitlement and access to economic support during lockdowns, as well as about the existence of sex workers’ mutual cooperation and care.

Looking back at the webinar, researcher Wáleri Santos, a sex professional herself, concluded: "For me, the webinar was of great importance because a public debate is a way to claim more security, to define sex workers’ rights, and to assign more responsibility to the window operators".


María Inés Cubides Kovacsics

Professional in Development Studies with a particular interest in gender and sexuality, labour rights, sex workers' rights, youth, security, and restorative justice.


Wáleri Santos

Sex professional

Assistant professor

Dr Karin Astrid Siegmann

More information

'Everyday security: exploring experiences and practices in sex work in the Netherlands' - MA research paper by María Inés Cubides Kovacsics

‘Decent work for sex workers’ as ILO’s centenary treat - Column by Karin Astrid Siegmann in Global Labour Column

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Sex workers’ everyday security in the Netherlands and the impact of COVID-19

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