Earlier this month, President Trump signed into law FOSTA/SESTA, a law that targets online platforms that people in the sex trade use to connect with their potential clients. Even before the law went into effect, many such online platforms have either shut down or changed rules to push out people who have previously depended on them for their livelihood.
Almost immediately, we began hearing from members of our community who are facing extremely difficult choices as a major portion of their source of income vanished overnight. Some are fearing that they might become homeless soon because they cannot pay next month’s rent, while others are thinking about going back to working the street. Others, especially those who have experienced horrible incidents while living or working on the street in the past are contemplating suicide out of pure desperation. An influx of individuals who have previously worked online onto the street will undoubtedly impact those who have been on the street already with additional competition.
Pimps have been contacting many of our community members, offering to connect them to clients they have in their phone in exchange for a cut. Some clients are now demanding sex workers and people in the sex trade to do more for less money because of the workers’ reduced bargaining power. Some people in our community have told us that they stopped screening clients because they can’t afford to turn down any opportunity to get cash, or lowered their standards and boundaries.
We are planning to do a larger survey to find out the full impact of FOSTA/SESTA and website shutdown on our community, but these are the stories we have heard in the last week or so. This is not about politics; it’s about our lives. FOSTA/SESTA is a badly structured law that punishes the vulnerable population while giving more power to pimps and clients.
Please contact us if you are in Seattle/King County area and want to join us as we figure out how to protect members of our community. To find out more about FOSTA/SESTA, please see the following websites:
- Survivors Against SESTA
- SESTA is yet another bill which will harm sex workers by Suprihmbé
- If you care about sex trafficking, trust people in the sex trades–not celebrities by Alana Massey
- Trump just signed legislation that could be deadly for sex workers like me by Laura LeMoon
- Trump just signed SESTA/FOSTA, a law sex workers say will literally kill them by Samantha Cole
- SESTA is already having devastating impacts on sex workers–just like they predicted by Annamarya Scaccia
- FOSTA-SESTA’s real aim is to silence sex workers online by Daniel Cooper