NEW YORK - Recent crackdowns targeting the sex-for-hire industry have reduced the of commercial on the internet and helped fight online trafficking. But activists and police say the efforts may have had unintended consequences - landing women and girls back on the streets, where dangers also lurk.
The impact was almost immediate after the seizure of Back. The of sex online plummeted by 75 percent, an indication that the law was thwarting human traffickers no longer protected by the anonymity of the internet.
But sex workers and their advocates say another casualty was the income of escorts who advertised online, along with the ability to vet clients better than on the street. Statistics establishing a pattern are hard to come by, but police in some of the nation's biggest cities told The Associated Press they are also seeing a shift, if sometimes only in the age of the sex workers they're encountering.
Jimmy Sides, of the San Antonio police. Phoenix police said they experienced a surge in street-prostitution arrests in but did not provide figures.
In Houston, levels have remained constant, but more to year-olds have been working outdoors since May, said James Dale, a police captain. Police in Sacramento, California, noted three street-prostitution arrests between March 21,and mid-August of that year.
During the same period inthey recorded Police in many big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, did not grant requests for interviews or data. In March, there were aboutadult services posted per day worldwide, according to researchers at Uncharted Software, which has monitored such since After the trafficking act passed Congress, that dropped to around 76.
The change was not permanent; by July, the s had rebounded to more than 50, per day, researchers said. Still, a fragmented market with no single replacement for Back will likely continue to reduce trafficking, according to counter-trafficking consultant Rob Spectre.
But on the internet, sex workers say, they were able to screen a client and check lists for "bad dates. Kara Alexander, who lives in Florida, advertised her services on Back, Craigslist and other sites before April. When media companies closed down sections hosting adult servicesshe said, she started working on the streets.
In May, she said, a client raped her and poured alcohol in her body in an attempt to destroy evidence.
Alexander, 29, said she had faced violence while working online, but never on this scale. A sex worker who goes by Quinn and didn't want her real name used because she feared arrest and other repercussions said that in the age of the trafficking act, she hasn't been able to rack up enough jobs. Near the end of April, she started selling herself outdoors in Boston for the first time since she was a teenager, she said.
Laura LeMoon, a sex worker and trafficking survivor who co-founded the Safe Night Access Project in Seattle to help protect street sex workers, said she has seen far more women on Seattle's strolls. Solicitors have gotten younger, too, she said.
She used to primarily serve middle-aged sex workers, she said, but now they often appear 25 or younger. Along with the rise in street prostitution has come a resurgence in pimping, which had faded in the internet age, according to sex workers and advocates. Alexander said a friend of hers was attacked by pimps who were incensed she was working without them, and Quinn said pimps have become much more aggressive now that they see a market.
Still, even activists who acknowledge a trend of more street prostitution think the trafficking act is better than unchecked online exploitation. Yvonne Ambrose's year-old daughter Desiree Robinson was trafficked in Chicago on Back and was killed by a buyer on Christmas Eve Ambrose ed Trump at the White House when he ed the legislation.
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. Side effect of trafficking law: More street prostitution? Yvonne Ambrose's year-old daughter, Desiree, was trafficked in Chicago on Back.
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