Sex workers are constantly stigmatized and exploited. Not only by well-known ‘pimps’, but also by business service providers. The oldest profession in the world was already legalized in 2000, but sometimes it is hardly noticeable.
The intentions of the government were indeed good. Legalization would lead to rules and control and abuses could be tackled better. Naturally, this regulation has worked out well. Subjecting sex workers to a thousand and one rules: no problem at all in the bureaucratic Netherlands. Blue letters from the Tax Authorities have since fallen on their doorsteps, just like with any other working person. It is therefore extra crooked that twenty years later they are still discriminated against by the banking world. And there is also exploitation lurking there.
Because for sex workers, opening a business bank account is a chore. Many banks keep their safes closed. Others provide their services only at extortionate prices and subject sex workers to intense scrutiny. Their arguments for this discrimination are like pincers on a pig. Customers from the sex industry were initially barred from ASN bank. Supposedly because this sustainable bank ‘didn’t want to open bank accounts for victims of coercion’.
Exploitation and legal work are thus unjustly equated. Sex workers are allowed to open a bank account at Triodos Bank. If only theybe able to prove that their deposited earnings do not come from sex work‘. Triodos Bank hereby firmly excludes sex workers from their services. Becoming a customer is allowed, but please lie about your profession. And when those lies are discovered, it sometimes means the end of the mortgage or bank account.
And then there is the issue of cash. Sex work and cash are intertwined: most customers in a sex room don’t dare to use a card at all. That is a nice way out for the banking world: they cannot check the origin of the cash. And yes, banks are not allowed to cooperate in money laundering. But that argument also makes no sense. Sex work is a legal profession and the origin of the turnover is completely lawful. In addition, bar owners, for example, can quietly deposit their cash income. So that broken kite doesn’t work either.
Tourists who want to visit the ladies and gentlemen of pleasure often prefer to pay with their credit card, not with cash. But also getting an ATM in the office is almost impossible. Several payment processors refuse their services to sex workers. Sepay reports that they do want to provide ATMs, but that the conditions of Maestro and V Pay, which regulate debit card payments, make this impossible.
Sex workers were unable to practice their profession during corona. There was no government safety net for them to bridge the gap: many of them were in financial difficulties. Only Fans offered a solution: everyone can create and sell their own content. A revolutionary website for sex workers! But recently, Only Fans suddenly announced that overly explicit content will be banned from October 1. Quite a crazy move from a company that makes almost all its money from sexual images.
The monkey quickly came out of the sleeve: Only Fans was under heavy pressure from the banking sector, due to the sexual content on the website. Fortunately, the company has found enough investors to survive. But I find the suffocating hold of the banking world on the sex industry shocking. Only Fans does not pay in cash at all. Again, it really seems that the banks are not particularly afraid of the origin of the money, but rather make a moralistic judgment about sex work.
More than twenty years after legalization, sex workers have a lot of duties. But those rights and facilities are not getting along. When the constant foreclosure by banks and insurers proliferates, it has really nasty and sometimes even dangerous consequences for people who just want to practice their profession.
If sex workers can’t manage their own money, they are more likely to turn to shady middlemen. Without an ATM in the tendon room, they are forced to walk the streets at night with a lot of cash. There they are an easy prey for people who have little in mind. That is why the government must now put on the barricades for sex workers. Especially after the government has left them out in the cold during corona. It is high time the government kept its promise from two decades ago.