In the United States alone, 8,524 sex trafficking cases and 26,557 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline were reported in 2017, nearly doubling in the last five years. The government has recently been putting an effort to end sex trafficking, with the newest bill called the “Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” or FOSTA. But like anything our government does, controversy ensues more than any progress. In my opinion, while it’s fantastic that they’re trying to abolish sex slavery, this bill isn’t going to solve the main problems.
Within the past month, talks of FOSTA have been in the Senate and House of Representatives, and have both passed with overwhelming support. The FOSTA bill “amends the federal criminal code to add a new section that imposes penalties on a person who, using a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce, owns, manages, or operates an interactive computer service (or attempts or conspires to do so) to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person,” according to Congress’s website. The public’s response is the creators of sites Craigslist and Reddit eliminating their personals sections that facilitate hookups and escort systems in fear of the bill claiming them for civil liability. There’s two sides of a coin to everything. Within the personal ads: one sees it as a gateway to casual sex, while another sees it as an opportunity for sex trafficking.
Initially it seems like the miracle sex trafficking needed, but once you do a little more research, you realize this only hurts the fight. To eliminate a platform where you can get resources to find the perpetrators is eliminating any progress to find them.
Sex trafficking is human trafficking for anything along the lines of sexual exploitation, slavery or forced prostitution, and it affects more than 21 million people every year. Within the U.S. alone, sex trafficking occurs every day in our own backyards. Sources show that Atlanta alone is a sex trafficking hub with more than $290 million coming in from it.
With countless horrifying stories of what the survivors went through every day, it should be one of the biggest priorities to ensure it won’t happen to anyone else ever again. Victims of sex trafficking face constant degradation, physical and sexual assaults, sexual infections, development of mental disorders, isolation and unsafe abortions through unwanted pregnancies – to name a few.
Multiple survivors and the U.S Department of Justice have come out saying the new bill is a bad idea, that it’ll only make prosecution harder to the traffickers, providing no outside resources for survivors (like housing and job assistance) and making saving future victims harder since prosecutors can’t use the open internet to track them.
While the sole purpose of the bill seems to be taking hefty measures on controlling sex trafficking, it won’t help. The correct approach is decriminalizing sex work altogether. Firstly, most victims don’t come forward due to the lack of rape-shield laws that prohibit their occupations to come up in a court of law, therefore they’ll get penalized as well. Secondly, safeguards need to be implemented to ease poverty, next to tackle sex tourism, then handle it all on a case-by-case basis.
The U.S. needs to prioritize its victims rather than the criminals by eliminating certain sites – they only hurt the victims even more. If it makes you uncomfortable to talk about, then you know it’s real. The stigma on sex work needs to end, not the sites to find victims.
The views and opinions expressed in the Editorial section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors. The Chronicle reserves the right to not publish any piece that does not meet our editorial standards.