FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, is yet another example of a bill that was created with excellent intentions – to reduce the harm caused by sex trafficking – yet is likely in actuality to have a potentially very damaging impact on the lives of sex workers. It’s going to make it significantly more difficult for sex workers to advertise safely or to exchange safety information on dangerous clients. Here’s an article by Melissa Gira Grant, writer and former sex worker, on the problems it may cause sex workers:
Kristen DiAngelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Sacramento, said her phone had been ringing off the hook since the seizure of Backpage: “The fear is astronomical.”
One woman told her she was forced to return to an abusive client due to the lost income, she said. Others have resorted to taking on “managers” who have leverage over the women and their income and could exploit them, she added. “Very easily, you can lose control of your own life.”
“This bill is creating an actual market for pimps,” Calida said, adding: “People don’t know if they are going to be able to pay rent … how they are going to afford food.”
Another endeavour that, due to lack of consultation with the very group it’s meant to be helping, risks backfiring horribly and making life worse for them rather than better.
(This article is written in honour of one sex worker’s call for people to use Friday the 13th as a day to speak out in favour of decriminalising sex work. I didn’t have time to write a proper post, but this article is timely and was worth linking to. Meanwhile, as before, I support decriminalisation of sex work in the interests of sex workers themselves, who typically end up suffering more under paternalistic laws that are aimed at helping them without consulting them.)