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Atlanta teens helping end slavery. Escaping slavery in Hong Kong. Kutcher testifies against sex trafficking. The dark ingredient in your chocolate. An unusual weapon against modern slavery. Abused orphan gets second chance. Safe house helps teenage sex trafficking victim. Survivor overcomes her sex trafficking past. Sex trafficking in Colombia. Students fight modern slavery.

Artists draw attention to modern slavery. From domestic slave to the Democratic Convention. Sex trafficking victim speaks out. Story highlights The bill that passed Congress may actually harm sex workers, critics say Internet forums provide protections for sex workers, who find work off streets. Seeing her own reflection "was so traumatizing" for Stark, a transgender woman who hadn't yet undergone the surgical treatments she knew she needed. Some days, she couldn't leave the house.

She tried taking her own life. An Army veteran living with disability, she could not get this surgical care from her usual provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not pay for or perform gender transition-related surgeries. Stark calls Wisconsin home but mostly lives out of a suitcase, maintaining a busy schedule as an escort, adult film performer, photographer and phone sex operator.

But now, her career is coming to an abrupt end after a bill passed by Congress in March. Senate approves anti-sex-trafficking bill. I just call it the end of my career, essentially," she said.

The bill, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , prompted the online bulletin board Craigslist to shut down its personal ads two days after its passage.

The bill was directed against sex trafficking, not the volitional career in sex work to which Stark credits her own survival. Craigslist is an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing.

Now awaiting the president's signature, the bill paves the way for sex trafficking survivors to hold websites accountable for "knowingly" facilitating their abuse. The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.

Some sex workers are already losing their housing as a direct result of forums like Craigslist personals going dark, according to Christa B. Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said.

Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again. Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said. Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients.

Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs. She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs.

We can mentor each other. We can support each other. We can screen our clients," said Akynos. Bolstering these concerns about sex worker safety is a recent research paper -- still under peer review -- that suggests Craigslist's "erotic" services section may be linked to a drop in the female homicide rate. Prostitutes speak out against Senate health bill. L would like to continue this work, but last week, Backpage, her one source of clients, disappeared.

When L went to Backpage last Friday, she was greeted by an unfamiliar image. Where classifieds used to be, there was a notice saying that Backpage had been seized by the FBI.

Earlier that day, she would soon find out, the Feds had raided the homes of Backpage co-founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. According to documents unsealed on Monday, the two, along with five other Backpage employees, have been indicted on 93 charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering and facilitate prostitution.

Backpage says that the company blocks ads that involve minors and reports them to law enforcement, but the site has long been accused of enabling both prostitution and human trafficking. Human trafficking, however, exists in far more industries than just sex: The International Labour Organization estimated that, as of , there were 4. Sex is just a part of the human trafficking problem, but it's the only part we hear about.

There is good reason for this: There has been a sustained effort on the part of anti-sex work campaigners to conflate human trafficking with sex work, despite the fact that not all sex workers are victims, and many sex workers are just like L, who chose to work in this trade. In fact, some sex workers say the ability to post their own ads on sites like Backpage actually helped them get out of trafficking.

I didn't have to justify it to anyone. For the very first time, the oldest profession has transparency, record keeping, and safeguards. Backpage did make their jobs safer. Online classified services give sex workers an opportunity to vet their clients first—and they allowed sex workers to trade information with each other about who to trust and who to avoid. People doing sex work because they need the money are no less desperate without Backpage.

The data backs this up. As Angelina Chapin wrote in the Huffington Post , "A paper by Baylor University economics professor Scott Cunningham and colleagues found that after Craigslist created an 'erotic services' section, the rate of female homicides in U.

The researchers concluded that sex workers who advertised online spent less time on the streets, where they were more likely to face dangerous situations. Craigslist shuttered its "erotic services" section in in response to legal pressure but, as L told me, "Removing access to [sex workers] is about as effective as preaching abstinence. Her data, however, which was widely picked up by the media, turned out to be false.

After a series of court cases and the arrest of the company's CEO last year, Backpage removed the adult services section of their website, which also included legal job listings as well as a large for-sale section, with everything from cars to clothes. It was super crowded. That worked for a while. Despite this, the anti-trafficking bills passed in a rare bipartisan effort.

Only two senators, the progressive Sen. And then, three weeks after the vote, Backpage was seized, indictments were filed, and L found herself out of work. There are other websites where L could advertise her services, but Backpage was the biggest, the best, and it's where her clients knew to find her. She could turn to the dark web or to international websites, but, with no reason or incentive to work with U. You might also be interested in these:

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Craigslist sex cash classifieds New South Wales Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. It was super crowded. I just waited until he was done and ready to say what was going on. Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients. Human trafficking, however, exists in far more industries than just sex: Find escorts craigslist massage did not take the offer, but, desperate to pay rent, it gave her an idea.
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The new " adult " section link NSFW barely changes this. A quick browse through the adult section in the Chicago area shows that prostitution listings are still widely available, just with more vague, toned-down language and PG images.

The ladies and men, when you can find them who post listings here are still trying to play by the new rules despite the illegality of their profession. We confirmed with one provider who calls herself Maureen that her "erotic massage" services listed in Adult is really just a code for a whole menu of sex acts. Maureen has bigger things to worry about than Craigslist forcing her to change her wording, however. It has changed the type of clients from businessmen to back down to the blue collar worker that you can't really count on.

That hasn't stopped Maureen and other providers from posting, though. For those who don't want to play by the rules, a spin into Casual Encounters a part of the site for boring old plebes like you and me to hook up shows that other prostitutes have merely moved their offers for "french lessons" and the like to the free, unmoderated part of the site.

Let's put it this way: In the end, the change's lack of real impact suggests that the legal posturing over Craigslist and prostitution is more about PR and less about actually reducing prostitution or keeping anyone safe.

That means for companies like mine, we do occasionally have to field some questions from people who are obviously testing the waters to see what we might reveal or hint to them about what may or may not happen for them of a sexual nature. We have to act out this charade with people who are barking up the wrong tree.

We are already seeing more of these types of calls as those who used to use those classifieds websites are now trying to find alternatives in all the wrong places. To me this is not helpful at all. It only further blurs the lines between the professionals on the non-professionals. Or what could be worse for some of these providers or sex workers is forcing them out onto the streets or into less organized and potentially more dangerous situations in order for them to continue to try to earn their living doing what they do.

As I alluded to earlier, some legitimate massage therapists now have fewer places to advertise their services, because they are being lumped together with bad actors. This is hardly the first time massage therapists have paid a price for others engaging in illegal activities. For example, Florida became the only state in the country to ban massage therapists from providing therapy through insurance to those injured in car accidents. Because some criminals were using massage licenses as a tool to commit insurance fraud.

Many therapists paid a heavy price as their livelihood was taken away and many injury victims are still not able to get doctor prescribed treatments covered by their insurance. When it comes to the therapeutic vs. Further, brick and mortar massage business could do likewise — making it more apparent without the head scratching as to what type of service one could expect to receive there without playing games and bothering people who want nothing to do with what they are looking for.

In conclusion, by going after victimless crimes, federal law enforcement is probably creating more risky and dangerous conditions for sex workers while creating a ripple effect of other problems that also negatively impact legitimate massage therapy businesses. Ironically, the best way for the legitimate massage industry to shake off the red light cloud of suspicion, caused in part by those advertising on places like Backpage.

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The new " adult " section link NSFW barely changes this. A quick browse through the adult section in the Chicago area shows that prostitution listings are still widely available, just with more vague, toned-down language and PG images.

The ladies and men, when you can find them who post listings here are still trying to play by the new rules despite the illegality of their profession. We confirmed with one provider who calls herself Maureen that her "erotic massage" services listed in Adult is really just a code for a whole menu of sex acts.

Maureen has bigger things to worry about than Craigslist forcing her to change her wording, however. It has changed the type of clients from businessmen to back down to the blue collar worker that you can't really count on. That hasn't stopped Maureen and other providers from posting, though.

For those who don't want to play by the rules, a spin into Casual Encounters a part of the site for boring old plebes like you and me to hook up shows that other prostitutes have merely moved their offers for "french lessons" and the like to the free, unmoderated part of the site. Let's put it this way: In the end, the change's lack of real impact suggests that the legal posturing over Craigslist and prostitution is more about PR and less about actually reducing prostitution or keeping anyone safe.

The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post. The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.

Some sex workers are already losing their housing as a direct result of forums like Craigslist personals going dark, according to Christa B. Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said. Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again. Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said.

Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients.

Stark also has a mandatory hour waiting period before she agrees to meet clients, giving her time to check for criminal records and other warning signs. She learned ways to stay safe and grow her business from other sex workers online, some of whom keep blogs. We can mentor each other. We can support each other. We can screen our clients," said Akynos. Bolstering these concerns about sex worker safety is a recent research paper -- still under peer review -- that suggests Craigslist's "erotic" services section may be linked to a drop in the female homicide rate.

Prostitutes speak out against Senate health bill. I don't think Waco had one. But Craigslist didn't launch this section in every city at the same time. Cunningham's team found that cities where Craigslist launched the section for erotic services reduced their female homicide rate by up to However, it is not possible to say what portion of those homicide victims were sex workers, Cunningham said, nor is it possible to prove that Craigslist was directly responsible for the dip.

This reduction wasn't seen for other types of homicides Cunningham analyzed. The research gives quantitative insight into what is likely to happen in the wake of the new bill, he said. Some of them go back to working for a pimp. Some of them, maybe they advertise on the dark web.

Limited information exists on the number of sex workers in the United States, including illegal acts of prostitution. Many definitions of sex work include a broader variety of services beyond prostitution, such as "erotic performances. Akynos expects that black sex workers will be some of the hardest hit by the anti-trafficking legislation.

She recently founded a group called the Black Sex Worker Collective to "help facilitate sex workers who may be looking to exit the business, as well as support those that are in the business. We're already criminalized in so many more ways than white people are, period," said Akynos, who specified that she was not talking about sex work alone. What is going to happen to us as a whole?

The bill's supporters, including 97 senators who voted for the legislation, say it will give law enforcement tools in the fight against sex trafficking and enable survivors and their families to seek justice in the court system. The bill followed a two-year Senate investigation into online sex trafficking on the classified ads site Backpage. The investigation, led by bill co-sponsors Sens. Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, found that Backpage knowingly aided criminal sex trafficking of women and young girls, scrubbing terms from ads such as "Lolita," "teenage," "rape" and "amber alert" and publishing them on its site.

Anti-trafficking organizations around the world. The investigation led Backpage to shut down its adult ads section. The site was seized by federal law enforcement agencies Friday, and on Monday the Justice Department announced that seven people have been indicted on 93 counts related to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

Ron Wyden, one of only two senators to vote against the new bill, said in February that it would paradoxically "make it harder to catch bad actors and protect victims by driving this vile crime to shadowy corners of society that are harder for law enforcement to reach. Roughly 6, sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year.

When asked about the concerns over sex worker safety, Benavides said, "Tell that to the mothers and fathers of daughters who've been murdered after being trafficked on Backpage. Despite wide congressional support, a number of tech groups have voiced concerns about the legislation, alleging that its broad reach could lead to unintended negative consequences for free speech on the internet and for smaller companies whose resources don't rival those of tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union is considering a challenge to the bill once it gets signed into law but has no definite plans to do so, said Ian Thompson, a legislative representative for the organization.

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