Monday, November 27, 2023

Banks boycott sex workers even for legal kinds of sex work

 Repugnance isn't erased by legality. Workers in morally contested, repugnant markets may be boycotted by banks even when their work is legal.  Marijuana sellers in states where marijuana sales are legal run into this problem because Federal law still prohibits such sales, but sex workers in legal industries (video sex, porn) and even prostitution in Nevada often can't keep bank accounts, even personal (i.e. non-buisiness) accounts.

The NYT has the story:

Sex Workers Have Been Shunned by Banks, Even When Their Work Is Legal. Financial service companies often avoid what they deem high-risk industries like adult entertainment. When workers lose their accounts, they are left with few options.  By Tara Siegel Bernard

“Despite being a legal establishment, there is, of course, still a stigma attached to the work,” Ms. Cummins, 74, said from Wells, Nev., the only state where prostitution is legal in certain counties. “There is no bank in Nevada that will lend money to a brothel."


"Workers in sex-related industries — whether in a brothel or a strip club or selling sexually explicit videos online — often risk their safety and face social and employment discrimination. But a lesser-known struggle is that it’s often difficult to maintain a basic bank account and other financial relationships that most people take for granted.


"Financial institutions are responsible for monitoring the nation’s cash flow for potential criminal activities, including human trafficking and money laundering. In the process they’ve also become quasi-law enforcement, making life-altering calls on who can keep banking and who cannot, based on their own calculus about what kind of risk is worth taking.

But without bank accounts, people are unable to accomplish the most basic of financial tasks: collecting, spending and saving their earnings. Once banished from mainstream bank accounts and everyday financial apps Americans have come to rely on, sex workers are left with fewer, and often less attractive, options — turning to crypto, for example, or being forced to rely on others to hold their cash, opening them up to exploitation. 

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