From our close contact Kate with Reframe Health & Justice:
TOMORROW, at 5pm on the Rules Committee in the House is marking up a bill (H. 1865) which would:
– Create a federal crime for facilitating sexual exchange online punishable by up to ten years. This would criminalize hosting safety information online, harm reduction techniques like asking for referrals via email, community spaces for sex workers and advertising platforms which allow people to engage in indoor work.
– Open up advertising platforms for civil liability for facilitating sex trafficking – without giving any clear guidelines for what that actually entails.
Both of these pieces would significantly undermine the health, rights and safety of sex workers – making people more isolated, economically unstable and vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
We assume that it will move to a floor vote on Tuesday, February 27.
WE NEED YOU TO:
1. Reaching out to staffers and letting them know the disastrous impact that this would have. To understand the bill, there is a one pager enclosed.
2. Sign on to the attached organizational letter, and send it to staffers in the meantime. We’ll be updating it/re-uploading it with new sign ons we get, but we need the information to staffers ASAP. The letter is enclosed, and if you’d like your org included, please DM us and we will connect you to a Reframe organizer.
3. Tweet! Post! Make huge noise! We’ll be doing a Twitter storm at 3pm EST with the hashtag #SurvivorsAgainstFOSTA sharing information, links to articles, and demands not to compromise our survival. The Rules Committee meetings at 5pm, and we want them to know going in how dangerous this is for our communities.
4. Ask your folks to call their members of Congress. Even the co-sponsors of this bill signed on before it added such wide provisions for criminalization. Below is a script to copy/paste out to folks. Not all of you have memberships to forward this to, so apologies for including everything in one fell swoop!
SEX WORKERS need YOU to take action by calling your Representative TODAY and demanding a NO vote on FOSTA! Why? Because #FOSTAHurtsSurvival!
FOSTA, House Bill 1865, will turn the harm reduction tools like bad date lists, online community support and opportunities for screening for violence into a Federal crime, punishable up to 10 to 25 years. FOSTA will not stop trafficking, it will only push the sex trade into further isolation, making it even more difficult to fight violence and exploitation. If you believe in the survival of sex workers and trafficking victims, urge your Representative to vote NO on House Bill 1865, going to the floor for a vote as soon as Tuesday, February 27.
1. Who is your rep? Find out here: https://callyourrep.co/
– Why am I calling? Because other than showing up in person (go do that, too!) it’s more effective than emails. They write down every call that comes in, and hearing from constituents that an issue is important really does make a difference.
– Can they arrest me if I tell them I’m a sex worker? The chances of anything like that are beyond minuscule. “Sex work” isn’t illegal, you’re not giving them enough information to do anything, you can use what ever name you like, and that would be absolutely shocking and the worst PR move your Rep could ever make. They’ve also just heard from DREAMERs, so you’re not even the first this year to call in and talk about a criminalized existence.
2. What if my rep is a co-sponsor on the bill? All but one of the co-sponsors signed onto this bill before the most harmful language was added. There’s a really good chance they don’t know – AND NEED YOU TO TELL THEM. But once you find out who they are, you can look that info up here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1865/cosponsors
3. What do I say when I call?
“Hi, my name is ____________ and i live in ___________ (city in district). I’m calling to urge Congressperson ____________ to vote NO on FOSTA, House bill 1865.
I am a [loved one of a/parent of a/service provider to/an ally of] sex worker[s] and this bill would compromise the safety and lives of people who trade sex, including trafficking victims. I am calling to ask you not to put [me/my community/my loved one/my child] in danger of violence and victimization. Please vote no on this terribly misguided bill, which is expected to be votes on Tuesday, February 27. Thank you for your time!”
4. What else are you doing? We, and allied organizations, are going to be connecting with staffers from the offices who have signed on and where we have already have relationships. But those conversations are so much more impactful when they know that this will impact their constituents’ lives.
5. How do you pronounce it? Remember that Foster’s beer commercial with the Australian accent? Fost-ah? Like that.