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From Austerity To Sex Work With Phoenix Calida

For a growing number of vulnerable women such as Alice, a combination of cuts and a ‘blatantly discriminatory’ benefit system is making prostitution the only way to survive
Illustration for disabled sex work feature
 Illustration: Shonagh Rae/Heart

For the past five years, Alice has been making a living as a sex worker. She is also disabled; she has bipolar type II, which leads to hypomania, depression and a severe lack of physical energy.

For Alice, these two sides of her life – disability and sex work – are inexorably linked. Alice (not her real name) started this line of work when she was at university – it was a way to make some extra cash to top up her student loan. She had always intended to quit sex work after graduating. “That was three years ago,” she says.

Upon leaving university, she struggled to retain a job. Traditional employment – with a boss and set working hours – proved impossible during depressive episodes and her job came to an end for that reason. She started a postgraduate degree, but her mental health meant she kept missing lectures and the university eventually recommended she take a year off. “I’ve to all intents and purposes [had to] drop out,” she says.

Dutee Chand: India’s first openly gay athlete faces family backlash

Dutee Chand

Dutee Chand, India’s first openly gay athlete, is facing a barrage of criticism from her family after announcing she was in a same-sex relationship.

The sprinter, 23, came out last month, revealing her “soulmate” was a 19-year-old woman from her village.

India’s historic decision to decriminalise gay sex in 2018 inspired her decision, she said.

But since publicly coming out, her family have reacted with hostility.