The early days of the pandemic were the harshest, with a ton of people out of work and struggling to find relief.
Well, the conditions were not as good with the sex workers. They just managed to keep their heads up above the water even after the ignorance neglected by the Government.
Ellie Ade Kur, a cline organizer and board member at Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, admits their community was facing “a wave of criminalization” when Covid hit. She said, “We couldn’t access government aid. We had to organize an emergency fund. We had to organize an emergency fund. We had to do a food box program. We had to organize our mental health services to ensure our people had access to pandemic relief. The political leaders left behind sex workers.”
Then after an outbreak of Toronto based strip club Brass Rail Tavern, just a few months after Ontario issued a mandate to reopen the businesses, But Ontario head of Government made the situation even worst by making absurd stigmatizing comments about the club “I feel sorry for people when they go to their houses and tell them that they were at the Brass Rail.” Toronto mayor also joined in with his discouraging remarks stating that “It’s ironic that small theatres that can’t open for performances yet these places are open for what they offer- and I’m not making a judgment on that, I am just commenting on the nonsensical nature of that.” It resulted in the shutting of the clubs again.
Kur told Rolling Stone pointing out how the blame of spreading HIV/AIDS was shifted to sex workers, saying, “This whole idea that sex workers are spreaders of disease, that they’re shameful- there’s a similar sentiment coming out from this sentiment coming out during the pandemic targeting and blaming sex workers throughout the pandemic.”
These trivializing comments about the sex workers and their source of income inspired Maggie to fight against all the odds. Maggie’s has vaccinated 3,600 people at several locations in downtown Toronto. Many people have also been coming for their booster shots. They keep the vaccination process in low-barrier vaccination clinics at different places across the town for people. These low-barrier vaccine drives don’t require any proof of identification which is the unique feature of the vaccination at their clinics. Furthermore, this feature has encouraged people who do not have any traditional form of identification to get vaccinated. Majorly targeting the people of undocumented communities, sex workers, or people who are out of reach or unaware of getting the vaccine jab.
Maggie’s is not the only organization promoting the strip club vaccine drives. The Hustler Club in Las Vegas is also contributing to the cause. They have hosted many drive-thru vaccine clinics and hosted promotional nights offering a free lap dance in exchange for getting vaccinated.
Maggie’s innovative initiative to reach the underserved community is quite the solution to getting more people vaccinated and earning themselves the respect every professional needs.