The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act is Critical to the Health and Safety of Sex Workers

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December 17, 2019
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Puneet Cheema in Rep. Khanna's video announcing the bill's introduction.

Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) along with Rep. has introduced the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act in the House of Representatives, a critically important measure that will require an assessment of impacts on the health and safety of people who trade sex when they lose access to internet platforms.

Lambda Legal released the following statement from Staff Attorney Puneet Cheema:

“The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act is important because it acknowledges the reality that some people trade sex for economic survival, to meet their basic needs for food and shelter. Some members of the LGBT community, particularly transgender women of color, sometimes rely on sex work because they face extreme discrimination in the formal employment sector. This bill is historic in recognizing that the lives, health, and safety of people who trade sex matter.”

“People who trade sex are already vulnerable to exploitation– the type of exploitation that SESTA/FOSTA intended to prevent. But with the loss of access to internet platforms, people who trade sex have been forced to the streets where there are higher risks of violence and exploitation. This bill mandates a thorough and rigorous study of these impacts. This is an important step. It is essential that we understand how to craft solutions that would mitigate the vulnerability to violence experienced by people who trade sex.”

“We need to make sure that anti-trafficking efforts don’t harm the people they intend to protect. The health and safety of people who trade sex for survival should be a central consideration in anti-trafficking measures, not collateral damage.”

"It is past time that we take steps to address the daily threat of violence faced by people who trade sex. We commend Congressman Khanna, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator Elizabeth Warren and the other sponsors for their leadership in seeking to understand the impact of SESTA/FOSTA and the loss of internet platforms on these vulnerable populations.”

Watch the video released by Rep. Khanna here.