Women’s Rights Leaders Want FBI to Keep Backpage Open So Sex Workers Have Options to Meet Clients

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Women's March Backpage
Women’s March leaders fear the shutdown of Backpage.com will negatively impact sex workers who used it to safely get in touch with clients. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Women’s March organization is pushing back against the recent shutdown of notorious adult services website Backpage.com, arguing that the stoppage limits the options for sex workers looking to meet clients.

Law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and Justice Department, seized Backpage’s servers last week after the DOJ found the site took “consistent and concerted actions” to intentionally allow ads for illegal sex work, The Washington Post reported. The founders behind the classified ads site have since been charged with money laundering and facilitating prostitution.

While many have lauded the charges as a blow to prostitution and human sex trafficking, many critics have argued that banning the site, which was commonly used to solicit sex, will now force women to sell themselves on the streets. Leaders with the Women’s March described the shutdown a crisis for sex workers who relied on the website to get in touch with clients.

“Sex worker rights are women’s rights,” the feminist group declared in a tweet.

Women’s rights supporters echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the fact that sex work is consensual while sex trafficking is forced or coerced.

“… The crackdown on Backpage is not about ending trafficking,” Collective Action for Safe Spaces tweeted. “It’s motivated by the patriarchal notion that women should not be free to do what we want with our bodies.”

The “sex worker’s rights are women’s rights” slogan, was challenged by critics, however, who felt that rallying for legal prostitution essentially argues that sex work is an inherent part of being a female.

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