Last week, Representative Ro Khanna of California introduced a bill into Congress called the SAFE Sex Workers Study Act. The bill is designed to institute a study that would examine whether or not sex workers have been in more danger since the passage of FOSTA-SESTA. Sex workers claim that violence has increased against them since the elimination of sites like Backpage that was seized by the Federal Government. They also claim that without sites like Backpage and craigslist they can’t screen new clients or spread the word about potentially dangerous clients. This bill has also been backed by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Elizabeth Warren.
While I don’t wish violence against anyone I seem to recall that violence against sex workers was still pretty prevalent when Backpage and craigslist were in full swing. I also theorized that these sites made it easier for violent clients to find victims. Also, while I think that prostitutes should not be arrested, they are engaging in an illegal activity in most of the country.
Not surprisingly, Rep. Khanna represents Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley and much of the Bay Area are quite insular when it comes to the concept of human trafficking. Generally in the Bay Area, sex work is viewed mostly as being conducted by consenting adults with the human trafficking aspects of sex work seemingly being ignored.
So, for the sake of arguments let’s say that violence has increased since FOSTA-SESTA. What then? Should FOSTA-SESTA be repealed? Then the flood gates of sex trafficking will be reopened. What’s more important, the ability of people to make money at what is essentially an illegal activity, or the rights of women and children not to be sold for sex against their wills?