After several sex works extensively rallied against the laws: SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), Rep. Rohit Khanna, a staunch opposer of the aforementioned acts has now introduced a new proposal that will require the federal government to conduct a national study on the harmful effects of the laws on the already marginalized community of sex workers.
The SESTA/FOSTA acts has broadly fueled a movement of censorship against sex workers, making it more difficult for them to have an online presence on the internet. Several advocacy groups and sex workers have expressed their disdain over the fact that disabling sex workers from accessing the internet will make their lives difficult, as several sex workers solely rely on the internet to perform background checks and screen their potential clients.
The California representative Khanna has been opposing the acts ever since their inception and has now introduced the SAFE SEX Workers Act this Tuesday, which will now require the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a formal study on the pitfalls and hazards faced by the community of sex workers, as a result of the legislation.
“Sex workers are disproportionately women of color, transgender, and are by definition the most marginalized in our society. They don’t have people chasing their boats. They don’t have people seeking their contributions. The Democratic Party says that it stands most for the marginalized. If we are to be true to that aspiration, then we have to be willing to stand with those communities,” says Khanna.
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If the bill introduced by Khanna does find approval, it will then require the HHS to study various aspects of sex workers’ lives that were impacted as a result of the SESTA/FOSTA acts: homelessness rates, mental health, exploitation, and if or whether the newly introduced acts have made it harder for sex workers to negotiate with their clientele.
Originally, the SESTA/FOSTA acts were introduced as a measure to crackdown the rising online sex trafficking problem. The act essentially modified a key aspect of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of the Internet. According to this section, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr weren’t previously liable for the user activity on the platform.
But with the introduction of SESTA/FOSTA, platforms now became liable, resulting in a banning spree of sex workers across the internet as a drastic way of avoiding liability.