Today the world will observe International Women’s Day with rallies, marches, and forums about policy issues impacting the lives and wellbeing of women. While we welcome the celebrations and dialogue, there is a vitally important legislative step which the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) urges that the U.S. Senate take next week to tangibly improve the lives of countless women and girls—pass the legislative package known as FOSTA-SESTA to fight online sex trafficking.
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic FOSTA-SESTA legislative package by a vote of 388 to 25. The package included H.R. 1865 the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, and an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mimi Walters which incorporated the vital reforms contained in S. 1693 the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), sponsored by Senators Rob Portman and Richard Blumenthal.
This legislative dynamic duo restores rights to victims of sex trafficking and empowers states Attorneys General to prosecute the kingpins of sex trafficking, but must pass the U.S. Senate before the reforms can become law.
“Women and children are not products to be sold online,” said Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Policy and Research for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “But, the immunity provided by the Communications Decency Act to classified advertising websites offering women and children for sex has turned the Internet into a virtual red-light district, where women and children can be bought and sold with the same industrial proficiency as fast food.”
Thompson continued, “The corporatizing of sex trafficking by companies like Backpage.com—which market women and children for sex on the Internet—is an assault on women’s rights and the fundamental principle of human dignity.”
“The National Center on Sexual Exploitation calls on U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 1865 FOSTA, sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner, with the Rep. Walters amendment which will add the vital CDA reforms contained in S. 1693 SESTA, sponsored by Sens. Portman and Blumenthal, with no further amendments,” said Thompson.
“Next week, the U.S. Senate has a historic opportunity to join with survivors, Attorney Generals from 48 States, a state legislature, celebrities, and advocacy groups from across the country in affirming the equality and human rights of women by passing FOSTA-SESTA. By doing so, they’ll send the unequivocal message to global kingpins of sex trafficking that, at long last, their “#TimesUp.”