A surprising alliance has emerged as sex workers and right-wing populist Nigel Farage join forces to criticize UK banks for their alleged moral judgments impacting clients. London-based sex worker Marin Scarlett has voiced concerns about the stigmatization of sex workers, drawing parallels with Farage’s recent grievances regarding his treatment by British banks.
Scarlett, a sex worker for over 15 years, expressed frustration over the discriminatory account closures that have long plagued her industry. She argues that UK banks have subjected sex workers to undue scrutiny, causing them to feel ashamed and stigmatized. Scarlett recounted the experience of losing access to funds, which often leaves sex workers in vulnerable situations.
Recent data from the Financial Conduct Authority watchdog reveals a growing trend of bank account closures in the UK, particularly affecting workers in professions associated with criminalization, such as sex work. Audrey Caradonna, spokesperson for the Sex Workers Union (SWU), highlighted the endemic financial discrimination faced by sex workers within the banking industry. Caradonna noted that some sex workers have been forced into legal disputes with banks over service denials.
The situation has prompted calls for change. Following Farage’s public outcry, the UK government is considering reforms that would mandate longer notice periods and clearer explanations for bank account closures. These changes are intended to safeguard freedom of expression. Marin Scarlett welcomed the renewed attention on the issue, although she expressed reservations about the catalyst being a prominent public figure.
Sex work is legal in the UK, but related activities remain in a legal grey area. Banks often avoid serving sex workers due to potential reputational risks. Rosie Hodsdon from National Ugly Mugs, a charity dedicated to combating violence against sex workers, noted that such discrimination pushes sex workers towards the cash economy, increasing their vulnerability to robbery and abuse.
The ongoing de-banking phenomenon raises concerns about the well-being of vulnerable sex workers who rely on state benefits. Caradonna warned that the fear of account closures leaves these individuals terrified and forces them into riskier ways of working to survive.
As the discussion gains momentum, the focus on the plight of sex workers in the banking system becomes a key point of contention, shedding light on the larger issues of financial discrimination and vulnerability within the industry.