Every industry across the world has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic – some even more than others. Those in e-commerce and tech have likely seen their businesses explode in recent months, while those in tourism and hospitality have likely seen thousands of colleagues laid off.
In the sex industry, workers have also expressed difficulty obtaining clients as restrictions on coronaviruses are imposed in many countries. Thailand has gained a reputation among travelers for its sex tourism despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in the kingdom. However, without international tourists coming to Thailand since the start of the pandemic, sex workers have suffered greatly.
When Thailand announced its state of emergency in March 2020, around 300,000 sex workers were unemployed. Nightclubs and massage parlors in red light districts in the ASEAN member state have been closed due to the COVID-19 virus.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the pandemic has led to an increase in the number of sex workers using online platforms to find work. Technology and easy access to an Internet connection have given sex workers the opportunity to continue their work and earn an income despite the health crisis.
According to a Cambodian news agency, these workers used different dating and chat apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Badoo to survive.
24-year-old Cambodian Lala (not her real name) told media that she sells herself by posting nude photos in apps. Then if a customer requests more photos, she edits them and charges them up to $ 100.
COVID-19 has pushed millions of people around the world into debt and poverty. With job losses and holidays reported around the world, many are increasingly desperate in search of a source of income. Some people have turned to producing adult content for the UK social media platform, OnlyFans.
“I used almost all of my savings to keep this store alive. What else could I do if I didn’t turn to OnlyFans?” said a Thai content creator who was almost forced to give up his t-shirt shop in a busy tourist market in Chatuchak.
On the platform, a visitor must subscribe to each creator for a monthly subscription in order to see the content of their pages. In addition, visitors can also tip them directly, 80 percent of which goes to the recipient.
“As of October, I made around 200,000 baht (US $ 6,672) a month just from posting nude photos,” the Thai man said.
American actress Bella Thorne has been reported to have earned over $ 2 million in just one week from her OnlyFans account. More celebrities and social media personalities have since joined OnlyFans. Nonetheless, the move has been criticized by some media and activists as traditional sex workers see their rankings drop on the platform due to the platform being crowded with celebrities and influencers.
When it was introduced in 2016, OnlyFans was created as an online platform to give fans exclusive access to their favorite content creators on a paid subscription basis. It is also one of the few platforms that allows explicit content.
OnlyFans saw its popularity increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. A media report said as countries stalled and businesses went bankrupt, many turned to OnlyFans and other independent creator platforms in hopes of making up for lost wages.
Recently there has been an uproar over the “sugar” issue in Malaysia. It comes after Sugarbook claimed that an increasing number of public and private university students nationwide are using its app to search for “sugar daddies” in order to easily earn money to solve their financial problems, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note, Sugarbook – which was recently blocked in Malaysia – is a online dating site for “sugar papas” and “sugar babies” to form relationships, discuss benefits and get paid.
Some have argued that a sugar baby is very much like a prostitute, while others disagree because prostitution is defined as “the act of a person offering his body for sexual gratification. for remuneration, whether in cash or in kind ”.
Whereas “sugar” is a mutually beneficial relationship between two parties, said Darren Chan, founder of Sugarbook. In an interview with Malaysian media, he explained that the two sides would discuss and agree on their list of wants and needs such as monthly allowance expectations, dinner company or concerts and any form of emotional and financial support. It can, but not always, include sex.
According to a study published by SeekingArrangement, an American “dating with sugar” website, ASEAN member states, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia, ranked in the top 10 Asian countries with the highest number of “sugar daddies” registered on the platform. .
“The average sugar baby receives up to RM 2,500 (US $ 619) in monthly stipends. It’s a great help for struggling college students, especially in these tough times, ”Chan said.