Following the passage of SESTA, a sex worker group called COYOTE-RI conducted an impact survey and documented 260 responses (and growing). The data is still being collected and analyzed, but we have some clear takeaways that must be shared:
Of the 260 sex workers who responded to the survey…
– 77% (201 people) reported sex work as their sole income
– 75% (197 people) are supported between 1-3 defendants
Within 2 Weeks of Backpage Shutting Down…
– Over 65% of participants report earning less income
– 25% (65 people) reported being unable to support themselves or their defendants, because their source of income was gone.
– 30% of participants report having stopped screening clients, or having lowered their safety standards.
– 60% (156 people) report having taken sessions with less safe clients, out of financial desperation
– Between 6-10% of participants were evicted
We are still processing the data to illustrate how many sex workers are being approached by pimps, who see this new environment as ripe for taking control. With online advertising, sex workers have been able to work independently, but now that this tool is gone, the pimps are starting to harass newly vulnerable sex workers.
SWOP-Seattle is aware of one death linked to a young woman going out onto the streets to work, as a result of having nowhere online to advertise. We are aware of one suicide linked to the overwhelming stress SESTA has caused. These are only the incidents we know of.
In response to SESTA and FOSTA, and the shutdown of Backpage, we are hosting a Funeral for the Death of Safer Sex Work on June 2nd. Click here for more info.