"A pimp desperation". The formula of a police officer thus sums up these high places of street prostitution now deserted because of the epidemic of coronavirus. Even those who exercise on the Internet see their clientele melt like snow in the sun. "At the Bois de Vincennes, we stopped working even before the national confinement, as of Monday, there was no one left," says Mélina, who has worked in a van for over twenty years.
Invested with the association of Bus des Femmes, she worries about those who already can no longer pay their rent - often sublets via sleep vendors, and those evicted from hotels, also closed. "We have no help of any kind, we were able to organize a handful of shelters for the most precarious," says Mélina who estimates between "2,000 and 3,000" the number of those, many of whom Nigerian women, who risk ending up on the street. However, emergency accommodation, already saturated in normal times, is sorely lacking today.
“For us, no partial unemployment or telework! The few who exercise the status of self-employed will also not be able to claim the aid promised by the state to the self-employed. We stopped working overnight and most have no reservations in the event of a hard blow, "summarizes Anaïs de Lenclos, spokesperson for Strass, the trade union of sex workers whose site lists several pots to come in. help for the most precarious, as well as advice to limit risks. Because everyone, far from it, will not be able to stop working.
Barrier gestures, somehow
"For some it is a question of survival: between choosing to eat today and guarding against a virus that may arrive in a fortnight, the choice is quickly made," is indeed alarmed June Charlot, mediator health within the Grisélidis association in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne).
A concern shared by Nora Martin-Janko, coordinator at Médecins du Monde. For the Chinese “walkers” in the Belleville district, it even speaks of “double punishment”: “The fall in clientele was felt long before, with stigma and insults accusing them of peddling the virus”. Those who have no choice "try as best they can to implement barrier gestures but over time, they will be even less able to choose their customers and impose their conditions", is alarmed- she.
The associations have no knowledge of infected people for the moment, but they are all worried about their access to care and, above all, their “basic needs: eating, feeding their children…”, summarizes Stéphanie Caradec, director of the Movement of the Nest. “We are going to bring some meals, diapers, exit certificates… Some foreigners without a residence permit are terrified at the idea of being arrested and being expelled. "
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Only positive point for the association: the extension of financial aid and residence permits for those who were engaged in an exit journey, one of the components of the 2016 law on the criminalization of the client. A thin hope in a very dark picture. "The whole French economy will be on the ground, predicts Karine Bataille, an employee of Le Nid in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin). One of them already said to me: I just have to go back to the sidewalk ”.
However, not all prostitutes have lowered their curtains. Far from there. While pretending to be a potential customer looking for information, we contacted by telephone fifty or so "sex workers" still working in hotels or apartments, all over France.
In the course of these conversations made on the basis of announcements posted on the Internet, we note that these women aged between 20 and 55 years have very different apprehensions of the challenges of the health crisis. One of them, originally from Eastern Europe and domiciled in the south of Paris, even thinks that the coronavirus is only a global plot hatched for obscure ends and without real consequences on the health of the population. A unique case.
Certain sexual positions are now refused
All the others are aware, to varying degrees, of the contamination risks to which they are exposed and to which they expose their customers. "Of course there is a danger but I am independent and I have to eat and pay my rent", replies Mia (the first name has been changed), a thirty-something who welcomes in an apartment in the XVIIth arrondissement of Paris. Not far from the Spanish border, in Perpignan, Élodie (the first name has been changed), 25, offers a very personal adaptation of the concept of “barrier” gesture. "Given the circumstances of the Covid-19, only blowjobs protected for 50 euros," she warns by text.
Nathalie (the first name has been changed), 45, based in the east of the capital, is not without a contradiction. "I am adamant about hygiene," she claims. First of all, showering and washing hands with gel are mandatory. Then I boil the towels after use. But I offer the same sexual services as normal. On the other hand, I do not accept Asians, Spaniards or Italians ”.
Marina (the first name has been changed), a young woman from Sevran (Seine-Saint-Denis) receives her clients in a hotel room. "After 9:30 pm, it's easy, there's no one left at the reception," she says. When asked if she has changed her practices, she thinks a bit and ends up indicating that she now refuses the sexual positions that would place her in front of the faces of her clients.
“I no longer received any calls. But it looks like it itches "
In Lille, Yasmina (the first name has been changed) does not seem to take as many precautions. Twenty years old, she works in her apartment which she scrupulously cleans. "But not because of the virus, just because I'm a household freak," she says. She says she practices all the positions requested by customers who have been galloping lately in disregard of travel regulations. “At the start of confinement, the first week, I no longer received any calls, my activity was almost stopped. But it looks like it itches. For the past few days, it's been going. "
Carole, "a somewhat round quadra" as she defines herself, cannot say the same yet. She works as an “escort girl” in Nantes. "My regular customers call me to hear from me and promise to come back after the confinement ends, I find it nice," she appreciates. But I don't see many people, two or three customers a week at most and I take a lot of precautions. In any case, the missionary position is over… ”. Before hanging up, she tells us an anecdote. "Last weekend, I was visited by a very cute doctor," she says. He appeared before me with a hygienic mask on his face and kept it on him while we were having sex. "