Japan is trying to give sex workers a leg up during the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation is offering financial aid to members of the oldest profession whose job prospects have gone limp amid social distancing — but regulations make it difficult for those in the stigmatized industry to apply without outing themselves, according to a new report.
The country’s central government 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 — sparking a massive pushback from activists and opposition members — went viral on social media, according to CNN.
“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.”
While prostitution is illegal in Japan, other types of sex work that stop short of intercourse are permitted.
The government relented and allowed the proposed plan to include those working legally in the sex industry, the network reported.
The drafted guidelines state that sex work agencies and employers can receive subsidies for those who have to care for their children at home during school closures.
Sex workers are also permitted to apply for a cash handout, available for people who have lost income during the outbreak, according to the report.
But many say that the government’s rules are opaque. It’s unclear whether the handout is available only to workers who have lost a certain amount of their income, or have been entirely dismissed from their jobs — meaning that they lost the agents who connect them to clients, the outlet reported.