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Anti-Trafficking in the Time of FOSTA/SESTA: Networked Moral Gentrification and Sexual Humanitarian Creep

Abstract : Globally, sex workers have highlighted the harms that accompany anti-prostitution efforts advanced via anti-trafficking policy, and there is a growing body of social science research that has emerged documenting how anti-trafficking efforts contribute to carceral and sexual humanitarian interventions. Yet mounting evidence on the harms of anti-trafficking policies has done little to quell the passage of more laws, including policies aimed at stopping sexual exploitation facilitated by technology. The 2018 passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the corresponding Senate bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), is a case study in how efforts to curb sexual exploitation online actually heighten vulnerabilities for the people they purport to protect. Drawing on 34 months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with sex workers and trafficked persons (n = 58) and key informants (n = 20) in New York and Los Angeles, we analyze FOSTA/SESTA and its harmful effects as a launchpad to more broadly explore how technology, criminalization, shifting governance arrangements, and conservative moralities cohere to exacerbate sex workers’ vulnerability.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 30, 2021 - 2:06:31 PM
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Jennifer Musto, Anne Fehrenbacher, Heidi Hoefinger, Nicola Mai, P. Macioti, et al.. Anti-Trafficking in the Time of FOSTA/SESTA: Networked Moral Gentrification and Sexual Humanitarian Creep. Social Sciences, MDPI, 2021, 10 (2), pp.58. ⟨10.3390/socsci10020058⟩. ⟨hal-03269574⟩



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