HUNDREDS of Edinburgh sex workers have signed up to an adult job site – convinced they will be forced out of their sauna jobs today (wed).
Licensing chiefs are due to meet to decide the fate of 13 saunas in the city following a police crackdown on prostitution.
Six saunas are expected to be permanently closed so sex workers are flocking to a seedy online website to advertise their services.
The girls are listing their vital statistics, specialities and prices as well as posting pictures of themselves in a bid to pick up customers.
Critics of the sauna crackdown say it proves that women will be placed at extra risk as a result of the anticipated sauna closures.
Users of the adultwork.com website make their own arrangements to meet anonymous clients, sometimes in their own homes.
The move comes after a series of raids in June this year, where more than 350 officers stormed the city’s saunas before bringing them in front of the council.
Six of the saunas, whose licensing appeal will be heard tomorrow, were ordered to close by council bosses after Police Scotland gave evidence.
But they were allowed to stay open on an appeal basis.
However sex workers across the city are not taking any chances of losing their livelihoods and have registered their services online.
One sex worker, Annabel, said she had registered herself on the site, along with the other girls at the same sauna, on Monday.
She said: “I can’t afford to be out of work. This is the first time I’ve been able to pay all my bills and hold my head high. But now we’re probably going to lose the sauna so we’re all going online.
“We have responsibilities like everyone else and instead of just accepting benefits and not working, I’m going to actively keep looking for work and rent a private flat.
She added that although it can be “pretty dangerous” she felt that she “didn’t have any other choice.”
Adultwork.com now has 344 prositutes profiles for Edinburgh alone. It gives details of the girls’ appearance, such as dress size and bust size but also gives the dates and times the girls are available.
MSP Margo MacDonald, who opposes the sauna closures, said: “These girls who are advertising their services online are taking an unnecessary risk but they’ve been forced to find an alternative to the saunas where they were more protected.
“The Chief Constable of the new force, Stephen House’s attitude towards zero tolerance is directly affecting the previously safe working environment these women once had.”
She added: “The new terms of licence will mean that no condoms will be allowed on the premises anyway even if they are allowed to stay open.
“Both prevention and detection services that were in place, and working, have been bundled up by the new force and thrown out with the rubbish and I seriously hope the health boards will give those involved a good talking to.”
Last week documents of Police Scotland’s inspection findings were released and showed that several saunas had condoms, pornography and even sex swings on the premises.
A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council confirmed the licensing sub-committee will meet tomorrow (wed) “to consider 13 Public Entertainment licences that are due for renewal.”
“Where the police have raised concerns, these will be considered carefully.”