Business Markets Tech Luxury. Stars Screen Binge Culture Media. Business Culture Gadgets Future Startups. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. You are not alone. Trump to trafficking victims: These men were forced into slavery in Scotland. Orphanage 'recruited kids to get donations'. Atlanta teens helping end slavery.
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Seeing her own reflection "was so traumatizing" for Stark, a transgender woman who hadn't yet undergone the surgical treatments she knew she needed. Some days, she couldn't leave the house. She tried taking her own life. An Army veteran living with disability, she could not get this surgical care from her usual provider, the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not pay for or perform gender transition-related surgeries.
Stark calls Wisconsin home but mostly lives out of a suitcase, maintaining a busy schedule as an escort, adult film performer, photographer and phone sex operator. But now, her career is coming to an abrupt end after a bill passed by Congress in March. Senate approves anti-sex-trafficking bill. I just call it the end of my career, essentially," she said. The bill, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act , prompted the online bulletin board Craigslist to shut down its personal ads two days after its passage.
The bill was directed against sex trafficking, not the volitional career in sex work to which Stark credits her own survival. Craigslist is an online classifieds site, divided by city or geographic area, through which users advertise a range of goods, services, jobs and housing. Now awaiting the president's signature, the bill paves the way for sex trafficking survivors to hold websites accountable for "knowingly" facilitating their abuse. The legislation chips away at part of a act that gave a broad layer of immunity to online companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, from being held liable for what their users post.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Though the bill aims to crack down on sex trafficking and protect survivors, critics say it threatens the lives and livelihoods of sex workers who choose to work in the profession by encouraging websites like Craigslist to censor their content -- pushing some sex workers back out to the street and removing their tools for finding and screening clients.
Some sex workers are already losing their housing as a direct result of forums like Craigslist personals going dark, according to Christa B. Daring, board president of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Many pay rent week-to-week and struggle to feed themselves and their children, they said. Craigslist was the first site Stark used to transition away from the street, where she relied on her military training to make "snap judgments" to stay out of harm's way, dodge potentially dangerous clients and avoid getting arrested -- again.
And, where there is doubt, platforms will err on the side of censorship. The bill passed through both the House and the Senate with broad bipartisan support and now awaits the signature of the president. Supporters of the new legislation said existing laws have allowed victims, including children, to be bought and sold through blatant ads on internet sites, which has created a surge of exploitation resulting in a multibillion-dollar industry.
A video promoting the campaign featured Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers and a host of other stars, saying: The group specifically targeted one of the most notorious sites for sex industry advertising, Backpage. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has said that nearly three-quarters of the 10, reports of potentially sex-trafficked children that it receives every year involve victims who were advertised on Backpage. But the company has managed to shake off attempts to shut down its posting of potential trafficking ads.
Meanwhile, other areas of the internet are feeling the chill that has surrounded the bill. Another website taken offline was Pounced.
A notice on the site said it was purely a personals site and not devoted to prostitution at all. Now if someone posts an ad looking to exchange sex for something to pounced. In a statement, Microsoft said the new rules, which go into effect on 1 May, are not related to the new bill....