“ÖI am a big advocate of finding a safe place for sex workers. I’ve always been, ”said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in one go February 2019 Interview with The root. But when you ask sex workers, they tell you a different story.
“I’m thrilled to have a black Vice President. I wish it was someone other than Kamala Harris,” said Alex Andrews, co-founder of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and SWOP behind bars. Andrews and others opposed the “torture” that Harris carried out as the District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California against sex workers. “She helped the Oakland Police Department cover up many of the misdeeds they had committed relating to sex trafficking,” she added, referring to how Harris refused to intervene in an explosive case involving several police officers having sexual contact Underage sex had workers Celeste Guap, whose lawyer specifically asked Harris’s office for help. “Kamala Harris did nothing to these cops. She was an active participant in the exploitation of this young woman.” As a prosecutor in 2008, Harris also opposed decriminalizing sex work, saying it would be “a welcome mat for pimps and prostitutes to San Francisco” release.
Andrews isn’t the only sex worker who experiences ambivalence. “I think wow, this is the first black woman on a big party ticket,” said Zola Z. Bruce of the Urban Justice Center’s sex worker project (SWP). “A lot of black cis women, or gendered people and trans women, just don’t know that it is possible for a black woman to sit in such a high position.” But Bruce adds that “there are some challenges because we know historically that she has not supported trans women in particular, nor has she supported sex workers. I just feel that we are seeing positive changes in our communities. We need to see that it is also changing. “
A lot of ink has been spilled on Harris’ background as a prosecutor. What matters on the subject of sex work is how recently the elected vice president’s actions contradicted her alleged views. During her tenure as an AG, she led a campaign to shut down Backpage, a classifieds website that is often used by sex workers.the world’s best online brothel“In 2016, claiming that the site made” millions of dollars in human trafficking. “While Backpage ran millions of sex job ads, the Adult Services listings provided a safer and more transparent platform for sex workers and their customers to conduct consensual transactions than This was previously possible. Harris’ grandiose mischaracterization led to a 2018 Senate investigation and the closure of the site by the FBI.
“The disappearance of the backpage devastated our community,” said Andrews. The platform enabled sex workers to work more safely: they could review customers and promote their services online. “It’s very heartbreaking to see the effects,” said Domina Yevgenia Ivanyutenko. “Many people have lost their ability to make a safe living. Many people have been forced to take to the streets or do other things that they would not otherwise have thought of. “M.F. Akynos, the founder and executive director of the Black Sex Worker Collective, says Harris should apologize to the community. They have to admit that she really messed up Backpage and really ruined many people’s lives.”
After becoming a Senator, Harris supported the now infamous Anti-Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), which was signed into law by President Trump in 2018, along with the State and Victims Permission to Combat Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) FOSTA-SESTA has created a loophole in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the so-called “Safe Harbor” provision, which enables websites to be free of user-generated content (e.g. Amazon reviews, Craigslist ads). The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that Section 230 is the backbone of the Internet and calls it “the primary law protecting freedom of speech on the Internet”. Now website publishers are liable if third parties post sex work ads on their platforms.
This marked the end of any number of platforms – most notably Craigslist’s “In-Person” section – that sex workers used to screen prospective customers, thereby exposing an already vulnerable workforce even more. (The Woodhull Freedom Foundation has filed a First Amendment lawsuit against FOSTA. It appealed to D.C. District Court in January 2020.)
“I sent some statistics [to Harris and Senator Diane Feinstein] about decriminalization and how much SESTA-FOSTA would hurt American sex workers and open them up to violence, ”said Cara (a pseudonym), who was a sex worker in San Francisco and a member of SWOP when the law was passed. Both senators ignored her.
The bill has been shown to have harmed sex workers and has not stopped sex trafficking. “Within a month of the FOSTA enactment, 13 sex workers were reported missing and two died of suicide,” Lura Chamberlain wrote in her Fordham Law Review Items “FOSTA: A hostile law with a human cost. ”“ Self-employed sex workers have faced a tremendous and immediate increase in unsolicited advertising from people offering or soliciting them. Dozens of others were raped, assaulted and left homeless or unable to support their children. ” A Survey 2020 Of the FOSTA-SESTA Impact, it was found that “99% of online respondents said they didn’t feel safer because of this law” and 80.61 percent “said they now have difficulty promoting their services” .
Perhaps FOSTA-SESTA will be reset in the Biden-Harris administration, which announces itself in response to experts and researchers. But that’s when Biden and Harris are ready to change their minds.
“I hope both Biden and Harris have the strengths of character to see and admit they were wrong about fighting human trafficking,” said Kaitlyn Bailey, who was communications director for Decriminalize Sex Work through October this year (which she now hosts) that Age Pro Podcast). “I have no illusions that any of them will lead on this subject, but I hope they could follow.”
In 2019 root In the interview, Harris claimed to advocate decriminalization of prostitution, a major change from her 2008 stance: “We should really remember that we shouldn’t criminalize consensual behavior unless someone is hurt.” She declined to go into detail, but her comments indicated that she would not support full decriminalization but the so-called Nordic model of criminalizing “Johns” but legalizing the sale of sex.
“Career politicians usually do what’s trendy or popular,” said R.J. Thompson, the executive director of SWP. “And the foundations that we laid in this movement inadvertently brought us to a point where the Nordic model is very viable in this country.” And that worries me very much because it’s a very harmful position … It’s bad for the workers. It is aimed at our customers and customers and takes the work directly from us. As sex workers, it makes us more susceptible to violence, puts sex work in the shade, but it also exacerbates and makes people more susceptible to human trafficking, which they primarily reject. ”
Some sex workers believe Harris can be pushed to move away from the Nordic model. “I think she’s too smart to believe that arresting our customers will make everyone safer,” Bailey said. Andrews added, “We hope for the best but fear the worst.” Andrews points up Research in New Zealandwhere sex work has been decriminalized for 15 years. “All the evidence shows that exploitation, violence and abuse have decreased dramatically,” she said in New Zealand. “And the Nordic model used in Switzerland has increased violence and exploitation.”
Whether Harris would support the full decriminalization of workers and Buyer is unclear. But there are some state and local movements where most of the arrests of prostitution take place. “I think we need to see courageous local leadership regarding decrimination like what’s happening in New York, DC, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and California,” Bailey said, referring to a variety of decriminalization laws that are in place Introduced in state law and in California were passage of SB233, which prohibits the use of condoms as evidence of sex work and grants sex workers immunity from prosecution if they report a crime. Andrews believes that decriminalizing sex work will follow the model of decriminalizing marijuana, with grassroots making change. And the SWP “is trying to pass full decriminalization laws in several states,” Thompson said. Though he fears “we might end up with a Nordic model.”
While a vice president does not have direct authority to change state law, many await the resurgence of troubling proposals during the Biden-Harris administration. The Elimination of Abusive and Widespread Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT), which allegedly aimed to prevent child sexual abuse online by allowing states to sue website owners for hosting child pornography on their websites (even if they do uploaded by third parties) It is illegal for websites to have end-to-end encryption unless they provide a “key” to the government. Bailey and Andres called it “FOSTA versus steroids”. While EARN IT died in the last Congress, Experts fear the introduction of similar bills with high potential to harm sex workers in the upcoming legislature.
Harris also has the option to endorse the SAFE Sex Workers Study Act proposed by Senator Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) In December 2019 and endorsed by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has been. . If passed, it would “commission the first federal study to examine how website shutdowns related to SESTA / FOSTA affects the health and safety of people who depend on consensual transactional sex,” said Khanna in his statement announcing the law.
If Harris is ready to endorse the SAFE Act or change her mindset about sex work, some sex workers and lawyers are willing to work with her, although many I’ve spoken to have been careful about trusting California’s “top cop”, when her life did it got criminalized. “If she came up with an initiative to decriminalize sex work in the US that would make up for it, and I would be her faithful blunt, spokeswoman in elevators,” Cara said. “That would be a great way to give restorative justice to the people she’s hurt with her policies, and it would be a way to say I got it wrong. I am sorry.”
Sex workers don’t ask much of Harris: they just ask to be treated like any other group of American workers. “You don’t have to like sex work, but you have to respect the people who do it and you have to listen to them and ask their opinions,” said MF Akynos. Sex workers are a larger segment of the population than most people think. “I don’t know how many sex workers she has actually spoken to, personally or directly, about the realities of our lives. It makes a huge difference when you speak to us who have been in the sex trade. We come from all races, religions, educational backgrounds and socioeconomic status, “Thompson said.” Someone you know is a sex worker. And the reason you don’t know is because of the stigma. ”
While Harris’ inauguration will be historic, many remain vigilant about their next steps. “We have such low standards in this country that we will do whatever representation we can,” said Thompson. As Mistress Velvet says, “You could lock me up as a white man or you can lock me up as a black Indian, I would still go to jail. It doesn’t matter what your identity is. ”
The work has already started. The Adult Performance Artists Guild Six meetings with Senators are planned earlier this year to ensure that bills such as EARN IT and the Internet Sexual Exploitation Act, drafted on December 4th (created in response to Nicholas Kristofs) New York Times via PornHub) will not be reintroduced in Congress.
And sex workers are already calling out Harris. January 9th Harris posted a video of himself on Twitterand said, “My mother taught me that no matter how you make a living, whether you’re a caregiver or a truck driver, a grocery clerk or a small business owner, there is value in every job.” Sex workers jumped on them. “So you agree, sex work has an inherent value and value?” asked a woman who called herself NY Dominatrix. Harris never answered.