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Aside from the trusty can of mace attached to my keychain, advertising online and then screening my clients is one of the only tools I have to protect myself from potential bad dates.
Since the 2010 closure of Craigslist’s adult services section and the FBI seizure of My Redbook in June of last year (both of which allowed providers to list ads for free) Backpage has been the most affordable option to advertise for adult services, allowing providers to post ads for as little as a few dollars.
Trafficked victims reported having their bodies beaten and forcefully exposed to other officers during raids, and one victim who participated in the study said, “A better way to help me leave my situation would be anything that didn’t involve the police.”Placing exploited sex workers and victims of trafficking in the hands of police shows how out of touch the anti-trafficking movement is when it comes to the needs of the communities it is trying to serve.
Taking away the few resources working-class sex workers have to protect themselves shows the true colors of what the anti-trafficking “movement” really is: yet another thinly veiled war on the poor, further empowering law enforcement to target, harass, and criminalize the most vulnerable members of our society.
Pressured by law enforcement officials, credit card behemoths Visa, Master Card, and American Express have since ceased doing business with Backpage entirely, leaving bitcoin, and mailing in cash, checks, and money orders as the site’s only payment options.
The Green River Killer, who murdered close to 70 sex workers in the Pacific Northwest in the ‘80s and ‘90s, said that he chose sex workers as his victims because he knew he could kill as many of them as he liked without being caught, and he successfully remained at large for 20 years.
Two World Health Organization studies from 20 found that most instances of violence experienced by sex workers in New York and Vancouver were not reported to the authorities at all; and if they were, the police rarely, if ever, followed up or investigated further. If I ever feel unsafe at work, I do not go to the police for fear of arrest, ridicule, or worse.
They were adult American women trying to make a living in an economy with a vanishing middle class and fewer jobs every moment.
They were not victims of human trafficking—they were victims of murder. The real culprit is the systematic hatred and dehumanization of sex workers, reinforced by their continued criminalization.