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Jump to navigation Skip navigation. The U. Senate is poised to pass legislation that is intended to stop the internet from being used for sex trafficking — a worthy goal aimed at addressing a serious problem.
Proposals to address sex trafficking should not make workers in the sex trade more susceptible to violence and exploitation. The bill also creates a new, vaguely defined federal crime for the facilitation of prostitution which could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Taking away the ability of sex workers to utilize online platforms to meet clients will force them back into street-based work where there is less time to negotiate safety needs and a higher risk of violence from both clients and law enforcement.
An important study from West Virginia University and Baylor University found a 17 percent drop in rates of homicide against women correlated to Craigslist opening its Erotic section because it made sex work safer.
As our colleagues at the National Center for Transgender Equality and dozens of other organizations that advocate for the rights of sex workers correctly noted in a recent letter to Congress :. After the closure of RedBook and Rentboy. The ability to access online platforms to advertise means that sex workers are able to screen clients for safety, negotiate boundaries such as condom use, and work in physically safer spaces.
FOSTA threatens to take these essential survival tools away from sex workers. Doing so will not help victims of trafficking, but it will endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. As my colleague Chase Strangio wrote :. Whether because LGBT people — particularly those of color, transgender women, and youth — face job discrimination, family rejection, homelessness, and criminalization or because our bodies and desires are at once demonized and exoticized, our community has long-turned to the sex industry for critical means of support and survival.