Vaccination and prostitution go hand in hand
20 Minutes, August 12, 2021
With vaccination, clients seem to be more inclined to return to massage parlours, even if the pre-pandemic level has not been reached.
Does vaccination allow a revival of activity in prostitution venues? For the Centre Relax massage parlour in Bulle, which prides itself on being the largest in the canton of Fribourg, a drop in clientele has indeed been observed since the reopening of places of prostitution in December 2020 in the canton, after a closure in November: since physical intercourse is unavoidable, clients simply avoid taking risks. But since May, activity has resumed, due to the vaccination. This massage parlour does not require its sex workers to be vaccinated. None of the seven girls who work there are vaccinated," explains Loïc Dix, the manager. This does not exclude health checks: the escorts are tested regularly and the rooms are disinfected and ventilated after each client. "No one has ever called to find out if the girls are vaccinated. On the other hand, I would say that 30% of the clients ask what sanitary measures are in place," the manager explains.
Not enough hindsight
For the manager of Venusia, the largest massage parlour in Geneva, it is still too early to say that the vaccination has had an effect. Since the reopening without time limits of the prostitution places in the canton, a drop in frequentation of about 20% has been observed compared to 2019, i.e. before the pandemic. From 21 January, the date of reopening, to 1 March 2021, a 70% drop in attendance was recorded, but the opening hours were then greatly reduced - from 9am to 7pm. The Fleur de Pavé association, which helps sex workers in the canton of Vaud, believes that even if the lights are green for some massage parlours in Lausanne, the recovery is not there, at least not to the extent it was before the pandemic. However, vaccination is beginning to be used as a tool for selecting clients. BemyGirl, a Geneva-based start-up that lists independent escorts from Geneva to Zurich, has added a "Covid Certificate" logo indicating sex workers who are vaccinated. This mention is a reassuring argument, confirms the platform's press release. Since the arrival of the vaccine, their site has seen an increase of more than 40% in requests from non-professionals wishing to start an independent escort business, and the number of visitors to the site has also risen by more than 25% since people have been able to be vaccinated. In June 2021, Google analytics even recorded a record number of visits with one day reaching 9000 unique visitors.