What is SESTA?
SESTA (Senate Bill 1693) would close online platforms for the sex industry. Being able to work online (and thus, indoors) is for most folks, the best method of harm reduction. This applies to everyone trading sex, wherever they are on the spectrum of choice, circumstance, and coercion. State Attorneys General have already talked about wanting to take sites like Backpage down, and this bill would give them the tools to do that. The bill attacks visible platforms for online sex work, and it is a moment for all sex workers to stand in solidarity. If it’s Backpage today, it could be Pornhub tomorrow.
This is the beginning of a long term struggle to shift the narrative. People who hate sex workers want to pretend criminalizing us will stop trafficking. It won’t. In fact, it makes our community more vulnerable to trafficking. It makes it harder to identify and support trafficking victims. The best defense against trafficking is a safe, strong, connected community. We all know housing and anti-poverty work are what prevents trafficking in the first place, not closing down a website.
Call (BOTH OF) Your Senators (Multiple Times)
We’re going to be posting on twitter under the hashtag #LetUsSurvive, but the real push is for everyone to call their senators. Seriously, call. The call volume in each Senator’s office helps determine meeting priorities. Even if we’re lobbying and doing work on our end, if people aren’t calling and making their voices heard as constituents, our opposition to SESTA is seen as just another niche issue that can be written off. Don’t let this happen. Find your senator’s contact info here. Find out if your senator is a cosponsor of the bill here.
Not sure what to say? We’ve got a call script for you!
“Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in ___________ (state). I’m calling to urge Congressperson ____________ to vote NO on SESTA, Senate Bill 1693. I am a [loved one of a/parent of a/service provider to/an ally of] sex worker[s] and this bill would compromise the lives of people who trade sex, including trafficking victims, by taking away the platforms people are using to stay safe. I am calling to ask you not to put [me/my community/my loved one/my child] in danger of greater violence and victimization. Please vote no on this terribly misguided bill, which is expected to be voted on March 12. Thank you for your time!”
Looking for reading materials, things to add into your tweetstorm, or literature to convince someone who’s not well-read on sex work and trafficking? Look no further!
Injustice Today article by Melissa Gira Grant on how FOSTA (the House bill that just passed) was opposed by people who work with trafficking victims
ThinkProgress article on how FOSTA conflates sex work with trafficking
Engadget article on how FOSTA is (like most other legislation) throwing sex workers under the proverbial bus
https://stopsesta.org campaign page from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Sex workers and advocates explain why the House’s online sex-trafficking bill is bulls**t
Article from EFF highlights actual anti-trafficking advocates who say SESTA will hurt survivors
Read this post for context on the aftermath of Backpage’s closure in 2016