Umbrella Lane Statement on OnlyFans' Explicit Content Ban
The news that OnlyFans will ban sex workers from October presents yet another attack on sex workers by online platforms and financial institutions.
The pandemic has severely damaged sex worker livelihoods and, for many, OnlyFans provided the means to keep a roof of their heads and feed their families. This also contributed to better overall public health as it avoided in-person services that risked contracting coronavirus, or contributing to its spread.
Umbrella Lane condemns OnlyFans' decision as a reckless move that has the potential to further destroy the lives and livelihoods of sex workers or force them to choose more precarious forms of sex work.
OnlyFans has conceded that the decision was taken at the request of the financial institutions with whom they do business. Opposition to facilitating transactions pertaining to the adult industry is a growing trend and sex workers are facing increasing discrimination when trying to access the same financial services as those in other jobs.
Umbrella Lane calls on financial institutions to provide equal services to all workers, regardless of their vocation, and for better regulatory oversight to tackle discrimination.
Shutting down adult content websites - which has increased worldwide since FOSTA/SESTA passed the US Senate in March 2018 - is supported by many politicians and campaigners to curb exploitation and trafficking. The reality is that pushing sex workers out of online spaces will not only devastate the livelihoods of many, but impede helping those who actually need it. Shutting down content platforms removes the transparency of sex work that allows for easier identification of victims of forced prostitution. These victims would be hidden by their exploiters, removed from visible parts of the internet to the dark web and other more hidden dangerous places.
Umbrella Lane encourages those concerned about exploitation to engage directly with sex worker-led groups to gain a better understanding of how to support those at risk.