Sex workers have been the subject of a large movement built around ‘saving’ us from trafficking, with very little input from the people actually at the center of the ‘rescue’. Sex workers around the world have been actively at the forefront of fighting non consensual/forced sex work.
The anti-trafficking industrial complex has conflated forced ‘trafficked’ sex worker and consensual sex work for a long time. FOSTA/SESTA was just one more point of harm in a long saga of this. This narrative is harmful to forced workers, because as sex work is criminalized, we see victims of forced sex work further criminalized when they report, ending up in jail and prison as a result of trying to get help. It hurts all sex workers when advertising venues are shut down, further forcing workers underground and into unsafe working conditions, vulnerable to predatory clients, pimps/madams, and the police. The general attitude by the anti-trafficking industrial complex towards us has been patronizing and infantilizing, forcing sex workers to work in sweat shops and in prisons in order to ‘reform and rescue’ us.
There are many reasons people get involved in the work, how can we parse out what is coerced and forced in a capitalist and racist society? What we do know is we respect survival strategies, especially within capitalism’s limited options. We want to foster agency and self determination. We believe the solution is greater access to resources, not further criminalization or creating assumptions about workers experiences rather than hearing from the workers themselves.
To learn more about decriminalization efforts, go here