MORE HARM THAN GOOD?

Sex workers unite to fight an anti-trafficking bill that they say puts them and others in serious harm’s way.

Aired on May 04, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

> PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS SIGNED A PAIR OF ANTI-SEX TRAFFICKING BILLS INTO LAW.

THE LEGISLATION WHICH RECEIVED UNANIMOUS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT INTENDS TO HOLD ACCOUNTABLE WEBSITES THAT PROFIT FROM ADVERTISING SEXUAL SERVICES FROM ADULTS AND CHILDREN FORCED INTO SEX WORK AGAINST THEIR WILL.

PRIOR TO THE BILL SIGNING, CRAIG'S LIST TOOK DOWN THE PERSONS SECTION AND THE WEBSITE BACK PAGE.COM WAS REMOVED BY THE FBI.

BUT A GROWING NUMBER OF ADVOCATES WHO DEDICATE WORK TO FIGHTING SEX TRAFFICKING CLAIM THE LEGISLATION IS MISGUYED AND RUNS THE RISK OF MAKING SEX WORK LESS SAFE.

AMONG THOSE ACTIVISTS KATE D'ADAMO WHO I AM PLEASED TO WELCOME NOW.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

TO GET YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THIS HERE IS LEGISLATION PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY BIPARTISAN SPOERPT.

WE RARELY SAY THAT ABOUT MUCH OUT OF WASHINGTON NOWADAYS.

AND I SUSPECT PEOPLE WOULD SAY, HOW COULD ANYBODY SAY THAT THESE ARE NOT GOOD PIECES OF LEGISLATION THAT RATHER THAN PROTECTING PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE DESIGNED TO PROTECT THEY CAN ACTUALLY BE HARMFUL TO SOME PEOPLE?

SO EXPLAIN TO US IF YOU WOULD WHY YOU ARE OPPOSED TO THIS LEGISLATION WHY YOU THINK IT'S PROBLEMATIC.

SURE.

AND YOU KNOW, THIS IS REALLY ONE OF THOSE INSTANCES WHERE THE INTENTION OF THE BILL AND THE IMPACT OF A BILL ARE SO VASTLY DIFFERENT.

AND SO, YOU KNOW, THE INTENTION OF THE BILL IS TO BE ABLE THOLD 30 PARTIES ACCOUNTABLE WE THEY KNOWINGLY FACILITATE TRAFFICKING.

THE PLM WAS.

THAT'S LAUDABLE.

I'M SURE JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY SAYS THAT'S A GOOD INTENTION, CORRECT?

SURE.

IF YOU KNOWINGLY FACILITATE THE EXPLOITATION OF ANOTHER PERSON THROUGH FORCE FRAUD OH OR COERCION YOU SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT.

THE QUESTION IS WHAT FORM THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAW TAKES.

AND THE WAY THE LAW WAS WRITTEN WAS NOT ACTUALLY TO TAKE A SCALPEL AND TRY TO DETERMINE WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE.

BUT TO SIMPLY LIABILITY WITH A LOT OF TERMINOLOGY THAT ACTUALLY ISN'T DEFINED IN LAW.

AND SO WHAT THIS LAW DID WAS CREATE THIS BRAND-NEW CIVIL AND NOT REALLY DEFINE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

AND SO WHAT YOU ARE ASKING IS FOR ALL OF THE DIFFERENT WEBSITES TO ALL OF A SUDDEN MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY HAD THE LITIGATION BUDGET TO SUSTAIN NOT JUST ONE BUT 61 DIFFERENT GOVERNMENT LAWSUITS, PROVE THAT THEY WERE NOT KNOWINGLY FACILITATING.

LET ME JUMP IN FOR A SECOND.

BECAUSE YOU SAID SOME OF WEBSITES YOU FEEL HAVE A VALUE IN TERMS OF SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF SEX WORKERS.

EXPLAIN WHY IT IS THEN -- AGAIN LET'S USE THE TERM DISCONNECT.

A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK MY GOSH THESE WEBSITES ARE HORRIBLE, PREYING ON PEOPLE.

YET YOU SAY THEY HAVE A VALUE, A SAFETY VALUE.

HOW CAN THAT BE?

ABSOLUTELY.

THE ABILITY TO ADVERTISE ONLINE CREATED THE TUNE FOR PEOPLE TRADING SEX TO SCREEN CLIENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME.

TO IMPLEMENT THE STRATEGIES THAT I USED TO TEACH AND PEOPLE STILL TEACH.

RATHER THAN ON A STREET CORNER ESSENTIALLY, YES?

RATHER THAN -- SURE.

RATHER THAN ON THE STREET TO WORK IN A BROTHEL OR SOMEONE DOESN'T TO WORK FOR A THIRD PARTY HAVING ACCESS TO A WEBSITE PLATFORM MEANS THEY STAY SAFE AND DO IT ON THEIR OWN.

THERE IS A STUDY THAT CAME OUT STILL GOING THROUGH PEER REVIEW SAYING THE OPENING OF CRAIG LIST EE ROTTIC SERVICES SECTION WAS CORRELATED TO A 17% DROP IN FEMALE HOMICIDES.

WHEN YOU TALK TO THE AUTHORS THEY SAY THERE IS A LOT OF PIECES OF THIS BUT ULTIMATELY PEOPLE IN THE SEX TRADE MAKE UP SUCH A LARGE PERCENTAGES OF FEMALE HOMICIDE VICTIMS.

HAVING ACCESS TO SAFETY AND SCREENING TECHNIQUES, THE ABILITY TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE, TO MEET SOMEONE IN A DESIGNATE THE PLACE THAT YOU HAVE MORE CONTROL OVER, TO BE ABLE TO DETERMINE IF YOU WANT SOMEONE TO COME WITH YOU, ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE REMOVED IF YOU CABINET CAN'T ADVERTISE ONLINE.

AND SO THIS DIDN'T TAKE AWAY TRAFFICKING.

IT DIDN'T TAKE AWAY SEXWORK.

IT SIMPLY FORCED PEOPLE ALREADY IN THE SEX TRADE TO HAVE FEWER OGSS AND UNSAFE OPTIONS.

ONE OF THE THINGS YOU PLAN ON DOING IS ENGAGING IN A LOBBY EFFORT VISITING LEGISLATORS.

WHAT WILL YOU BE SAYING TO THEM IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY CAN DO, SORT OF A -- A TWO-TRACK APPROACH IF YOU WOULD.

ONE IS TO MAKE SURE WE ARE PROTECTING AGAINST FORCED INVOLVEMENT IN SEX WORK.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME PROTECTING THOSE SEX WORKERS WHO YOU JUST DESCRIBED TO US NOW?

WHAT SHOULD LEGISLATORS BE DOING.

FIRST AND FOREMOST WE ASK -- WE NEED TO CONSIDER THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF THE LAWS.

WE NEED TO CONSIDER HOW THESE WORK ON THE GROUND AND WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE ACTUALLY ACHIEVING THE GOALS WE SET OUT.

SO THE FIRST THING IS ACCOUNTABILITY.

THE SECOND THING IS NOT FOR -- FROM HERE ON OUT -- REALLY ACTUALLY TALKING TO PEOPLE WHO ARE KWAKTED BY THE LAWS.

AND YOU KNOW, THAT'S REALLY TRUE ACROSS THE BOARD IN A LOT WAYS.

WHEN THERE IS A FARM BILL GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW THAT CUTS S.N.A.P. BENEFITS.

AND THE IMPACT OF THAT IS THAT MORE PEOPLE ARE LIKELY TO BE FORCED IN UNDERGROUND ECONOMIES TO DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO TO SURVIVE.

SO YOU KNOW ARE YOU BRINGING IN PEOPLE RELIANT ON S.N.A.P.

BENEFITS TO TESTIFY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS WITH THIS BILL?

SO FOR TRAFFICKING BILLS, THE BILLS THAT IMPACT PEOPLE THAT TRADE SEX ARE YOU BRINGING IN PEOPLE THAT HAVE TO LIVE UNDER THE LAW AND SAYING IT'S MAKING ME SAFER AND BETTER.

KATE, THIS HAS BEEN A INTERESTING AND REVEALING AND PROVOCATIVE AND INFORMATIVE CONVERSATION.

WE APPRECIATE YOU TAKING TIME TO TALK WITH US.

PERHAPS WE CAN CHAT DOWN THE ROAD A BIT AND SEE WHAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I CAN'T WAIT TO TALK ABOUT THE PROGRESS.

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