Experiences of Sex Workers in Times of Pandemic: from Lawful to Risk-Producing Environments in Switzerland.


  • Jenny Ros
  • Lorena Molnar




This paper aims to shed light on the difficulties faced by sex workers (SW) during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research was carried out in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) supporting SW in canton Vaud, Switzerland.

Drawing on the idea, developed by Scoular (2015), that the law is not sufficient to address the problems faced by SW, we propose to consider Swiss SW’s experiences in order to analyse interactions between the law and other societal forces in times of pandemic.

We used a mixed-methods approach (observations, focus groups and questionnaires) to understand the needs of the SW, the assistance that has been offered to them, and the obstacles they have encountered in accessing it since March 2020.

Our findings suggest that SW were confronted with a broad range of financial, administrative, psychological and relational difficulties that were conducive to health risks. We call for political responses and structural changes to promote SW’s empowerment and improve their working conditions.