Strip club dancers, workers, and supporters march in in New Orleans.

Rep. Ro Khanna Introduces “Safe Sex Workers Study Act” and Warren Changes Her Stance on SESTA/FOSTA

Finally!

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Today is the “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers,” and to honor that, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced a bill—along with Rep. Barbara Lee, and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden—to study the negative impacts that FOSTA-SESTA legislation has had on sex workers.

When that controversial bill aimed at curtailing sex trafficking passed two years ago, Khanna, Wyden, and Lee voted against it, while Warren voted in favor of it. Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal have also agreed to co-sponsor the new bill.

FOSTA-SESTA was loudly condemned at the time by sex workers, and many advocacy organizations, for its broad, loose wording and the immediate negative impacts it would have on sex workers that relied on online sites to help screen potential clients, and preserve their safety and wellbeing, while doing little to actually stop the black market trafficking of women and children.

It has been two years since the passing of FOSTA-SESTA, and now Khanna, Warren, Lee, and Wyden are calling on Congress to pass the Safe Sex Workers Study Act to gather data on the harmful impacts of the original bill so that it can be repealed. The new bill would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to perform the study and for all interviews within the study to be conducted by nonprofits that provide direct support to sex workers.

This is finally a step in the right direction, and I’m happy to see that Warren has listened and changed her mind on this topic. Sex work needs to be decriminalized, and this bill will hopefully pave the way towards making that a reality.

The full proposed bill can be read here.

(image: EMILY KASK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.