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Rep. Ro Khanna To Introduce Bill To Study Impact Of FOSTA On Sex Workers

from the well,-look-at-that dept

FOSTA was sold to Congress and the public as a way to "protect women," who (we were told) were being sex trafficked because of a "loophole" in the law. As we warned over and over again at the time, FOSTA would actually put women at even greater risk, and that has been supported by nearly all of the evidence we've seen to date. Beyond the fact that the number of women who are actually victims of sex trafficking has been greatly exaggerated or completely made up to the point of ridiculousness, so far there have been multiple reports showing that the actual impact of FOSTA was to increase sex trafficking by putting sex workers at much greater risk, driving them into the greedy arms of traffickers who promise protection. This has resulted in more women dead and even police admitting that the law has made it more difficult for them to catch traffickers.

That's pretty much exactly what many of us predicted before the law was passed, but Congress likes to pass laws and then forget about ever bothering to check whether or not the law did what it promised. So it's interesting to note that Rep. Ro Khanna is apparently planning to introduce a bill to study the actual impact of FOSTA, specifically on sex workers. This was buried in an article about Kate D'Adamo, a lobbyist representing the interests of sex workers on Capitol Hill.

“She is one of the most vocal and effective advocates on this issue,” said Rep. Ro Khanna of California’s Silicon Valley, who plans to introduce the bill in the next several weeks to study SESTA-FOSTA’s impacts after being approached by D’Adamo and her fellow activists.

“She’s really, I think, driving the conversation about the humanity of sex workers and the vulnerability of sex workers,” he said.

The measure, which has yet to be finalized, would call on the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health to study the fallout of SESTA-FOSTA.


The extent to which SESTA-FOSTA succeeded in its stated goal of shutting down sex traffickers is unclear, but Khanna said anecdotes have flooded in that the measure has forced sex workers to walk strolls to meet clients, causing “more violence, more harm to the public.”

“It was a wrong vote,” said Khanna, who was one of just 12 Democrats to oppose SESTA-FOSTA. “We need to now study it and understand the consequences, which I don’t think Congress fully considered. I can’t see any reason for opposing the collection of data.

The article notes that, even as many in the public now support decriminalizing sex work, most politicians are scared of even revisiting FOSTA, afraid that it will be spun that they're interested in decrminalizing sex work -- even as FOSTA has often resulted in more sex workers on the streets in their districts.

In his meeting with D’Adamo, the aide explained that since SESTA-FOSTA passed, there’s been an uptick of sex work on the district’s streets, leading to more 911 calls from constituents. “That’s not to say that the Congress member wouldn’t vote in favor of this on the floor,” he explained. “The people in our district are just very religious. Because of the taboo behind sex work, the Congress member doesn’t want to scare away supporters.”

What really gets me about all of this is: where are all the vocal supporters of FOSTA who insisted it was necessary to protect women? Where are they now that so far the evidence suggests it's put more women at risk? Why have they all gone silent? Why aren't they vocally supporting Khanna's effort to study the impact of the law? It's almost as if (as we noted) this was never actually about protecting women at all.

Filed Under: congress, fosta, impact, intermediary liability, ro khanna, section 230, sex workers

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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Sep 2019 @ 8:24am

    'What are you going to study next, 'is water wet?''

    I can’t see any reason for opposing the collection of data.

    Oh I can think of a few... In addition to the reason in the article of politicians not wanting to appear 'pro-sex work' by foolish voters, there's also the very real possibility that such a study would make official that FOSTA not only didn't help sex workers it actually made things worse for them, which would be rather 'awkward' to those that were so gung-ho about how great the bill was and how they were helping so much by passing it, and raise the question of 'If it's been so damaging then why keep it around rather than repealing it?'

    Given the study has high odds of exposing some rather nasty truths I expect that the bill to create and fund it will face some stiff opposition, or if it does squeak through the resulting study to be quickly buried and forgotten because after all 'there are much more important things to worry about, and politicians only have so much time to do their jobs.'

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