Ever since Backpage was limited to only being able to accept Bitcoin as payment for its ads I’ve had people claiming to be sex workers telling me that without Back-page they wouldn’t be as safe being back out on the streets. One former sex worker disagrees…
Back in the 1980s, when Audrey Morrissey was in the life, things were more clear-cut. Working the Combat Zone, she was, by design, highly visible. She could see and be seen, sizing up johns before she got in their cars or went with them into alleys. She could demand to see a license or have a friend take down a plate number. If she got into trouble, people would know and hear her screams. They might even help.
“I’m not saying horrific things didn’t happen,” said Morrissey, now 52 and assistant director of antitrafficking group My Life My Choice. She was robbed, raped, beaten, and had knives and guns held to her. “I know quite a few girls who were murdered. But it’s more dangerous today . . . because it’s invisible.”
Now let’s hear from someone who has worked during the Backpage era…
Pimps park women in these hotel rooms, sometimes in cities they don’t know, without friends or money or cars or cellphones. Every knock on the door brings somebody who might hurt them.
“You’re stuck in a hotel room for hours, days, weeks,” said Lala, who began working as a prostitute in 2005, when she was 16, and didn’t want her full name used. “You turn tricks, that’s all you do, and you’re lucky if you just run through them, and don’t get raped or robbed or beat up.”
In my opinion there are more women like Lala on Backpage than there are of these supposed independent sex workers. If you’re as independent as you say you can walk away but something is sill keeping you there. Is it money, drugs, something else? Then you have a pimp that you’re just not aware of. Women like Lala can’t walk away and Backpage helps keep her there whether you want to admit or not.