While FOSTA was an important step to protect victims of online trafficking, we must do more to protect marginalized people who engage in street- or survival-based sex trading, which has become more dangerous post-FOSTA.
The goal of shuttering U.S.-based commercial sex websites was both necessary and effective, but law enforcement is still struggling to adapt to FOSTA’s many unintended consequences in its broader fight against the commercial sex industry.
FOSTA conflates consensual sex workers with trafficking victims. As a result, it has made consensual sex markets more coercive and riskier, while hindering anti-trafficking efforts.
The sex trade is defined by exploitation. For survivors, FOSTA is a welcome step towards holding those who profit off of online exploitation accountable.
Stakeholders with authentic disagreements about and experiences in transactional sex can work together to reduce common harms in the sex trades through participatory policymaking that includes a wide range of people with lived experience, including people who identify as survivors of trafficking, sexual exploitation, and sex work.
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Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy
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