The bill that passed Congress may actually harm sex workers, critics say Internet forums provide protections for sex workers, who find work off streets CNN For a year and a half, River Stark took down all the mirrors in her home.
Seeing her own reflection "was so traumatizing" for Stark, a transgender woman who hadn't yet undergone the surgical treatments she knew she needed. Some days, she couldn't leave the house. She tried taking her own life. An Army veteran living with disability, she could not get this surgical care from her usual provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not pay for or perform gender transition-related surgeries.
Read More But now, her career is coming to an abrupt end after a bill passed by Congress in March. Senate approves anti-sex-trafficking bill "I wouldn't even call it a roadblock.
I just call it the end of my career, essentially," she said. The bill, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , prompted the online bulletin board Craigslist to shut down its personal ads two days after its passage. The bill was directed against sex trafficking, not the volitional career in sex work to which Stark credits her own survival. Craigslist is an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing.
Now awaiting the president's signature, the bill paves the way for sex trafficking survivors to hold websites accountable for "knowingly" facilitating their abuse. The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post. Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.
Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said.
Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said. Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs.
She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs. We can mentor each other. We can support each other. We can screen our clients," said Akynos. Bolstering these concerns about sex worker safety is a recent research paper -- still under peer review -- that suggests Craigslist's "erotic" services section may be linked to a drop in the female homicide rate. Prostitutes speak out against Senate health bill "There's always been erotic services sections in the back pages of alternative newspapers," said study author Scott Cunningham, an associate professor of economics at Baylor University in Texas.
I don't think Waco had one. Cunningham's team found that cities where Craigslist launched the section for erotic services reduced their female homicide rate by up to However, it is not possible to say what portion of those homicide victims were sex workers, Cunningham said, nor is it possible to prove that Craigslist was directly responsible for the dip.
This reduction wasn't seen for other types of homicides Cunningham analyzed. The research gives quantitative insight into what is likely to happen in the wake of the new bill, he said. Some of them go back to working for a pimp. Some of them, maybe they advertise on the dark web. Many definitions of sex work include a broader variety of services beyond prostitution, such as "erotic performances.
She recently founded a group called the Black Sex Worker Collective to "help facilitate sex workers who may be looking to exit the business, as well as support those that are in the business. We're already criminalized in so many more ways than white people are, period," said Akynos, who specified that she was not talking about sex work alone.
What is going to happen to us as a whole? The bill followed a two-year Senate investigation into online sex trafficking on the classified ads site Backpage. The investigation, led by bill co-sponsors Sens. Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, found that Backpage knowingly aided criminal sex trafficking of women and young girls, scrubbing terms from ads such as "Lolita," "teenage," "rape" and "amber alert" and publishing them on its site.
Anti-trafficking organizations around the world "They didn't remove the post because they didn't want to lose the revenue," Portman said on the Senate floor. The site was seized by federal law enforcement agencies Friday, and on Monday the Justice Department announced that seven people have been indicted on 93 counts related to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
Ron Wyden, one of only two senators to vote against the new bill, said in February that it would paradoxically "make it harder to catch bad actors and protect victims by driving this vile crime to shadowy corners of society that are harder for law enforcement to reach.
When asked about the concerns over sex worker safety, Benavides said, "Tell that to the mothers and fathers of daughters who've been murdered after being trafficked on Backpage.