The 33 member organisations of CAP international are working in support of more than 15,000 prostituted persons and victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, in 27 countries. They see on a daily basis how women and girls who are economically and sexually exploited by the prostitution system are being hit hard by the current crisis.
The COVID-19 virus seems to affect first and foremost, and more seriously, men, especially older men.
However, the accompanying health, economic and social crisis is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable groups in our societies and, as a result, women and girls belonging to the most discriminated communities. Women and girls who are migrants, refugees, displaced persons, indigenous people, ethnic and religious minorities, from the lowest castes, from rural communities, but also the poorest women and girls, the youngest, the homeless, victims of prior sexual violence are both the first victims of economic and sexual exploitation and the first victims of the current crisis.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, these women and children, often without residency statutes, housing, income and very often without access to minimum social rights, were surviving in prostitution. They did not live off it, they survived it. As all the investigative police forces in the world have shown, the income of people exploited in prostitution is indeed almost or entirely confiscated by pimps, traffickers, smugglers, landlords and many other predators.
Today, many of these women and children do not even have enough money to survive. This is why our grassroots associations are on the front line to offer the minimum necessities of life to as many people as possible: access to information about the virus, food and shelter.
In every country of our coalition, our members are on the field providing support to victims of prostitution during the pandemic :
➡️ In Colombia, Iniciativa ProEquidad offered recommendations to local authorities before lockdown started, and its members distribute food, and provide emergency rent money to at least 600 women and families in 4 cities. A survivor led NGO even set up a shelter during the pandemia.
➡️In India our member Apne Aap distributes cooked meals to more than 2500 families living in the red-light areas of Kolkata, Delhi & Bihar during lockdown.
➡️In the USA our member Breaking Free provides hot meals & basic necessities for women & girls in prostitution and their families. Their shelters serve 55 families during the crisis.
➡️In Spain Comisión para la Investigación de Malos Tratos a Mujeres provides psychological and legal support by phone to the most vulnerable women & girls in several languages. They continue their outreach activities and meet with victims of sexual exploitation.
➡️In Belgium Isala asbl has launched a fundraising campaign to assist vulnerable women and girls. isala has been assisting more than 50 women by phone during the lockdown. The money from the solidarity fund has been distributed to several families in the form of food stamps.
➡️In Lebanon KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation provides socio-legal advice to women in prostitution through their helpline. It is also providing financial assistance, emergency shelter, and medical support to victims of prostitution and ensure the most vulnerable among them have access to Covid19 tests.
➡️In France Mouvement du Nid France is continuing its ground work and provides phone assistance to women and girls in prostitution in addition to providing financial help and psychological support. It advocates for 3 rights & dignity guarantees at the national level : regular stay, resources & accommodation to leave no one below the poverty line.
➡️In Ireland Ruhama distributes emergency packs (with vouchers, food, hygiene products and sexual health and safety supplies) in all of Ireland for women & girls in prostitution who are particularly vulnerable during the crisis.
➡️In Palestine Sawa Organization مؤسسة سوا مؤسسة سوا ‘s free helpline operating through health professionals, counselors and lawyers to provide support for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and others for women & girls has received more than 1064 phone calls in the first 4 weeks of the sanitary crisis.
➡️In Canada CLES – Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle assists victims of prostitution by phone to assess their specific needs during these times. The organisation distributes food vouchers, prepaid sim cards to vulnerable women & also organise virtual support groups online!
➡️In Iceland Stígamót is supporting women and girls in prostitution and victims of violence by phone during the lockdown. They have been able to financially support women in need for them to be able to manage their rent, have access to food and medicine.
➡️In Latvia MARTA‘s social workers are operating by phone and messages to bring support to victims of sexual exploitation during the sanitary crisis. They have published a video with useful resources for women victims of violence in their country
Embrace Dignity distributing food parcels in South Africa
Follow more of our actions on our Facebook Page & Twitter with the hashtag #LastGirlFirst