Internet improves access to health care for sex workers in the Olympics area of London
The 2012 Olympic Games are already having quite an impact on sex workers in London. The Open Doors team of nurses has for years relied on its knowledge of East London brothels to provide critical sexual health advice, checkups and free condoms. In the run up to the Olympics, police have closed a number of brothels over the last 12 months.
This has caused various problems. Closed brothels re-open with fewer or no security arrangements in place. Women are forced to work alone and are more vulnerable to robbery, rape and sexual assault. It also makes health care more difficult to access for sexual workers.
Since brothels have been forced to close and nurses are not able to provide advice and resources, Open Doors sought to find an alternative route to provide healthcare to sexworkers. This was the unusual starting point for the cooperation between GreenNet, a not-for-profit Internet Service Provider, and the Open Doors Sexual Health Clinic.
GreenNet’s task was to build a website that could speak clearly to east London sexworkers with the sorts of advice that nurses used to provide during clinic visits. “I want condoms, I want advice, I want a checkup” prompts a simple online form, which is integrated into the fabric of every webpage, and aims to encourage sexworkers to get in touch with the clinic for services. The site is gold-plated with translations of all its content into Portuguese, Romanian, Polish and Chinese.