Racial Profiling and The Larger Impact of Covid-19 on Migrant Sex Workers in France


  • Calogero Giametta
  • Dinah de Riquet-Bons
  • PG Macioti
  • Nick Mai
  • Calum Bennachie
  • Anne Fehrenbacher
  • Heidi Hoefinger
  • Jennifer Musto




In this article we will discuss the first Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown and its immediate aftermath on the lives of migrant sex workers living and working in France, drawing on original interviews gathered between May and July 2020. Since 2016 in France, sex workers have worked under the so-called Swedish model legal framework criminalising the demand of sexual services. This has meant that sex workers, both migrant and non-migrant, have had to find various strategies to continue working within a criminalised environment      infringing upon their rights and safety. Research in the French context has largely shown that the introduction of the Swedish model increased the financial precarity and impacted in significant, detrimental ways the physical and mental health of sex workers (Le Bail & Giametta 2018). In the context of the existing hardship to which migrant sex workers were exposed under this repressive regime in France, this article investigates if and how the law enforcement and emergency measures around the Covid-19 crisis aggravated their already precarious living conditions. Our analysis here demonstrates that both institutional racism (e.g., government policies and law enforcement targeting racialized migrants) and interpersonal stigmatisation (e.g., poor treatment and stereotyping by clients and civil society) must be combated to reduce the discrimination against migrant sex workers that is amplified in times of crisis.