Here’s What’s Wrong With the So-Called Anti–Sex Trafficking Bill
Asking what does SESTA have to do with sex work? Both FOSTA and SESTA target websites like Backpage, which they depict as home to rampant sex trafficking. But many sex workers argue that the bills would threaten websites that allow them to do their work both safely and independently.
I was a #sexworker organizer for years in NYC. #FOSTA would undermine almost every single thing I would tell people for how to stay alive. ALL screening, ALL peer references, ALL bad date lists I could send. #SurvivorsAgainstFOSTA
On Instagram, adult performer Lorelei Lee posted an impassioned plea to her followers to call their senators about opposing SESTA. She writes:
This bill claims to target human trafficking, but does so by creating new penalties for online platforms that are overwhelmingly used by consensual, adult sex workers to screen clients, to share “bad date lists,” to work indoors, and to otherwise communicate with each other about ways to stay alive. Data shows that access to these online platforms decreases violence against sex workers, but I don’t need data to know that my friends are safer with the ability to screen clients, to share information, and to work indoors. In 2006, my friend Sequoia was stabbed and killed by a client while working alone and outdoors. I know that supporters of these bills want to end violence against women and against marginalized people of all genders. So do I. SESTA will only increase violence against the most marginalized.
Are sex workers the only ones who oppose SESTA? No. While sex workers have been especially vocal, as the bills could threaten their livelihood, various free-speech and technology companies have also opposed the bill. Electronic Freedom Foundation, for example, express their disapproval in a statement titled, “House vote on FOSTA is a win for censorship.”