In , he reported Buying sex online has been a booming business, and until recently the classified advertising website Backpage.
The site, whose operations were shut down by the U. The legislation passed both houses of Congress by an overwhelming majority. According to the law, website owners are now legally responsible if their platform is used to facilitate the sale of sex by users. As its name indicates, SESTA was promoted as a means to combat online sex trafficking, a term referring to forced prostitution that automatically includes minors.
Backpage was a leading impetus for the new regulation. According to a scathing U. Senate report released in , the site systematically turned a blind eye to possible cases of child prostitution. Internal emails showed the site intentionally allowed posts advertising underage prostitutes to remain active, only removing certain keywords.
After the Backpage website was seized , seven Backpage executives were indicted on charges relating to prostitution and money laundering, but not sex trafficking NPR.
Several groups that work on the front lines of the sex trade are not convinced SESTA will curb the most egregious cases of sexual abuse and violence. Sex workers themselves say they use the service to screen clients before meeting them. Fear of being arrested, and generally precarious lifestyles, make outreach a difficult task for sex worker activists. For Erika Gonzalez, a lawyer for trafficked victims, Backpage was a last-ditch resource to contact clients who had disappeared on her.
She explained the situation on Twitter , the main platform the sex work community uses to reach an audience. Sometimes the only way I could get ahold of her was by finding her through Backpage so that I could get her most recent number. Christina Parreira , a Las Vegas-based dominatrix, says online forums made interactions with clients a vastly safer experience than the pre-Backpage alternative.
With their phone number, she could look them up online. With a few discrete questions, she says she could gauge a client before agreeing on a meeting place.
She even began asking for personal references and deposits. Her occupation, therefore, is not based on a lack of options. Not every sex worker can ask a client for references and expect to stay in business. With the passage of SESTA, legal sex workers such as Parreira are faced with the same worries as the average sex worker — loss of income and safety. She plans on leaving Las Vegas to join one of the few legal brothels in the country, all of which are located in the Nevada desert.
Sex trafficking predates Backpage, but online forums certainly make child prostitution more accessible. But the ads themselves were not taken down, meaning customers could still set up a time to have sex with someone who could be under An agency will save you the time and money it takes to build up a good reputation and client list and you will have the added bonus of their full support should you need it.
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