In April, a mashup of two bills, SESTA and FOSTA, was signed into law. SESTA/FOSTA aimed to combat sex trafficking online. But according to many sex working people and community advocates, as well as sex trafficking survivors, the law has already begun to put people in peril by limiting access to safety resources, work, and community. Already, websites that were used to screen dates, find clients, and share resources have self-censored and shuttered, forcing workers onto the streets and into potentially exploitative situations. 

Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective & Fund, an emergency fund that provides financial resources to sex workers in crisis, experienced a “huge flurry of requests” in the wake of SESTA/FOSTA’s passage. Cora Colt, the co-founder and acting treasurer of the fund, told the Daily Beast that although the law does not fully go into effect until the new year, “the amount of instability they’ve managed to create from what measures online platforms have already taken voluntarily paints a bleak picture for the hardships workers will be experiencing when we start finding out how far this administration is going to take this very dangerous constitutional loophole they’ve created for themselves.” Lysistrata MCCF currently offers emergency assistance in amounts of $50 to $200, and has provided funds to “around 80 individuals” since March. 

“The harm SESTA/FOSTA is causing is being exacerbated by increases in discrimination and violence, cutting of health/social services and benefits, and increased powers given to law and immigration enforcement,” Colt continued. “What this combination of factors is very literally doing is forcing people into the industry out of desperation, taking away what safety networks might have been available to them and pushing them out of indoor living and working spaces onto the street where workers are being assaulted, trafficked, pimped, murdered and arrested in staggering numbers compared to previous years (the majority of these deaths that I know of have been trans women of color).”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Author: By amy.zimmerman@thedailybeast.com (Amy Zimmerman)