By Rebecca Gibian / April 10, 2018

Sex Workers Worry About Violence After New Legislation

The shutdown of personal ads on Craiglist and new legislation is going to drive workers onto the streets.

sex workers
Sex workers say they are already suffering consequences of legislation purportedly fighting online sex trafficking. (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Many sex workers depend on websites that host classified ads, such as Craigslist and Backpage.com, to meet and screen clients. But now, the U.S. government is cracking down on these platforms and has eliminated many workers’ primary source of income. This has forced some sex workers to turn to the streets or to rely on abusive pimps, greatly increasing the risk of violence or even death, reports The Guardian. Phoenix Calida, a Chicago-based sex worker who was dependent on websites, says that her friends are “preparing for death,” by sending pictures of tattoos, so their bodies are easier to identify or giving instructions for eulogies, writes The Guardian. 

“Girls are going back to the streets and they are going to die in the streets, and nobody cares,” Calida, a mother of two who said she used to do street work and fears she will have to start again to make ends meet, to The Guardian. “Everybody is terrified.”

Congress recently passed legislation with bipartisan support that aims to combat online sex trafficking by making websites criminally liable for users’ content. However, some say that this legislation, the Online Sex Trafficking Act (Fosta) and Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (Sesta), will have the opposite effect and will censor online speech, take income away from people who do consensual sex work and pushes traffickers underground, allowing more people to get away with it. President Trump is expected to sign the law this week but sex workers across the country told The Guardian they are already facing the consequences.

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