Sex trafficking—forcing people into sex work against their will—is a horrific thing. Shouldn’t politicians work to end it? Absolutely. It’s essential. But many current and former sex workers are saying that the proposed SESTA bill won’t actually do that.
“The legislation stands to do more harm than good by failing to distinguish between trafficking victims and sex workers, eliminating sex workers’ source of income, and hampering anti-trafficking investigations,” journalist and Playing the Whoreauthor Melissa Gira Grant writes in In Justice Today.
Essentially, SESTA could make sex workers more vulnerable by driving their networks further underground. Check out the following resources, then call your Senators and tell them to vote “no” on SESTA. Don’t know who your Senators are or how to reach them? Search here.
Read on to find out how you can help defend sex work as legitimate work.
Stop SESTA + FOSTA
SESTA (and its House counterpart, FOSTA) is opposed by a broad coalition of internet freedom, human rights, and sex worker advocates and organizations. The Stop SESTA + FOSTA coalition site provides information about the bill and a script to read to your Senator. It can even connect you directly to their office.
Survivors Against SESTA
Survivors Against SESTA is a “coalition of current and former sex workers, people who have experienced exploitation and trafficking, dancers, hustlers, allies, partners, family members and community members.” The coalition is planning debrief calls to keep momentum going after the vote, as well as Know Your Rights trainings, a national sex workers’ rights lobby day, and more.
One of the best ways to educate yourself on any piece of legislation is to listen to the constituencies that stand to be directly impacted by it. We’re reading (and listening to) the following work, which is either created by or centers the voices of current or former sex workers.
Article: Proposed Federal Trafficking Legislation Has Surprising Opponents: Advocates Who Work With Trafficking Victims, Melissa Gira Grant, In Justice Today
Article: If You Care About Sex Trafficking, Trust People in the Sex Trades — Not Celebrities, Alana Massey, Allure
Article: The Legislation That Would Harm Sex Workers—In The Name Of Their Own Protection, Alex MK, The Establishment
Article: What Sex Workers Know That Congress Doesn’t, Emma Roller, Splinter
Podcast Episode: Third Eye Wide Open, Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman, Gina Delvac, Call Your Girlfriend
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA) is a social justice network doing critical work around educating the public on sex work, offering peer-to-peer support to sex workers, advocating for policies that support sex workers, and more.
Follow these thought leaders to educate yourself on SESTA and sex work in general.