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. Escaping slavery in Hong Kong. Kutcher testifies against sex trafficking. The dark ingredient in your chocolate. An unusual weapon against modern slavery.
Abused orphan gets second chance. Safe house helps teenage sex trafficking victim. Survivor overcomes her sex trafficking past. Sex trafficking in Colombia. Students fight modern slavery. Artists draw attention to modern slavery. From domestic slave to the Democratic Convention. Sex trafficking victim speaks out. Story highlights The bill that passed Congress may actually harm sex workers, critics say Internet forums provide protections for sex workers, who find work off streets.
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. Even with the advantage of her military training, however, "most often, physical appearance and demeanor really don't tell you a whole lot," she said.
Many sex workers run background checks on clients, communicate through online forums and check "bad date lists," which sex workers create to warn others about hostile clients.
She was earning a couple thousand dollars a month. By no means am I rich. For Bella, a year-old sex worker from northern Florida, the business was lucrative. She also used another website that screened clients. Both sites have now stopped taking ads from the United States. I am college educated. I have a family. I have a husband. Not all women, however, are independent, willing participants in a state that draws visitors from across the globe. In Miami-Dade, posts on Backpage have resulted in many high-profile human trafficking cases.
In recent years, those charged include a local Spanish-language singer , a man who forced a runaway teen to tattoo his street name on her eyelids and a businessman who lured girls from Kazakhstan with the false promise of working at a yoga studio. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 74 percent of all its child-trafficking report last year was generated from Backpage. Just over half of adult victims in recent Miami-Dade cases, and 40 percent of minor victims, were advertised on Backpage.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has been outspoken against Backpage; her office filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit filed last year by trafficking victims against the website. The state later filed new charges against the men, this time charging them with money laundering.
The trial is still pending. Efforts against Backpage mounted in January , when a U. Senate report blasted the site for facilitating criminal activity. Miami Beach has shut down four massage parlors where police believe women may have been forced into sex work. The pressure ramped up last month when Congress passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which amends federal law to make it easier for state prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to go after website operators who knowingly allow third-parties to post ads that facilitate prostitution.
Critics say the law, which has yet to be signed into effect by President Trump, is overly broad and will stifle free online speech. In response, Craigslist — which remained a popular hub of prostitution — took down its personal ads for users in the United States. Hopefully we can bring them back some day. Three days later, the U. Authorities also accuse Backpage of laundering the ill-gotten money through unrelated companies, foreign banks and cryptocurrency.
That has left those in the sex industry scrambling, creating group chats, private social media pages and messaging app chains to share info on what sites are up and running. Websites based overseas are largely out of the reach of U. New clients, however, have not caught up.