Senate joins House in passing law that strips websites of immunity for knowingly running sex trafficking ads
Challenge issued to all SITE chapters around the world to raise money for organization to combat scourge of exploitation
Carol Smolenski, executive director of ECPAT-USA and Caroline Pidroni, vice president of CSR for the SITE Northeast Chapter and director of sales and marketing for the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, announced a 2018 fundraising challenge for all the local chapters of SITE to raise money for ECPAT. The challenge is being issued to all 29 local SITE chapters around the world to donate a minimum of $500 to ECPAT in 2018. To date the SITE Texas, SITE Southeast, and SITE Northeast chapters have all met the challenge.
“The problem of trafficking children is a social phenomenon that is global. Children are being bought and sold all over the world,” said Smolenski. “This is an issue that the tourism and hospitality industry should be paying close attention to as half of the exploitation takes place in hotels of every category, from budget to luxury properties and the transportation industry is also playing a role in trafficking of children.”
Smolenski made her comments during a CSR activity sponsored by the SITE Northeast Chapter that was the opening event of SMU International which took place at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge February 25 to 27. Over 75 of the 275 event attendees participated in the activity that created 100 goodie bags that were distributed to needy children in the New York Metropolitan Area. The event also raised awareness of the plight of children caught up in prostitution and trafficking around the world. “It’s a tragic and sickening reality that there are people out there to whom not even the innocence and humanity of a child is sacred,” said Pidroni. “But it is also true that each one of us has the ability, and responsibility to contribute in whatever small or large way we can to stop this practice."
The Kentucky State Senate approved a resolution to curtail child sex trafficking by encouraging Kentucky residents, employees, and agencies to use travel brands that are combating the crime. Specifically, the resolution cites ECPAT-USA and The Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) and recommends that people use hotels, venues, and other brands that are members of The Code.
On March 6, 2018, Congresswoman Ann Wagner, joined by Congresswomen Joyce Beatty, Mimi Walters, and Carolyn Maloney, thanked ECPAT-USA and other leading advocacy organizations for their their input and expertise as the House considered H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The Congresswoman also directed the letter to the more than 100 organizations that sent the February 26 support letter to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi.
Ground-breaking research into the online sexual exploitation of children has brought to light the urgent need to better understand and measure the problem says INTERPOL and a campaign group.
A report from a new study, released by INTERPOL and ECPAT International today, suggests that when online images or videos of child sexual abuse depict boys or very young children, the abuse is more likely to be severe.
This afternoon in a floor vote of 388 to 25, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1865 the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act or (FOSTA). The bill reported out of the Judiciary Committee was strengthened by an amendment by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). This crucial amendment to the original bill by Rep. Ann Wagner, restores trafficking victims’ rights to pursue websites like Backpage.com for their role in human trafficking. The amendment also brings the House legislation more closely in line with the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) legislation in the Senate, which has garnered 66 cosponsors and awaits a vote by the full Senate.
“This has been a long journey for these victims. They have fought for years in the courts, and they have have spent years in the halls of Congress trying to get justice. This bill is a giant step forward for them and we will keep fighting until the President signs it into law.” — Carol Smolenski, Executive Director ECPAT-USA
ECPAT USA has been an early advocate for trafficking victims seeking their day in court. These efforts have been repeatedly stymied by websites relying on a loophole in the law referred to as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Federal Courts have called on the Congress to provide clarity to the law, and that is what the House has done today.
"For a very long time, Backpage has been making a tremendous profit from sexual abuse of countless women and children. It is imperative that Backpage is held accountable for its nefarious actions—that is justice for its victims." — Iryna, Survivor-advocate
ECPAT-USA is the leading policy organization in the United States seeking to end the commercial, sexual exploitation of children through awareness, advocacy, policy, and legislation. ECPAT-USA is a member of the ECPAT International network, with offices in 93 countries. For more information, visit ecpatusa.org.
Up until now, there have been two competing bills one in the Senate called Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the other in House, called Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act or FOSTA. The original bills took different approaches, but they ultimately ended up at the same place. They both allowed the victims of human trafficking to sue websites that knowingly assisted in the crime.
This past year, the #metoo movement has sent shockwaves across the entire world. Sadly, some of the most unsettling revelations have been connected to the Olympic Games, an event that is meant to serve as a beacon of empowerment and inspiration. This is why it’s so heartening that major reform efforts were put into place heading into the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. Their impact is already being felt.
The Congress has been making important progress in reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is the provision that provides legal protection to websites like Backpage.com, which facilitate the sale of children online. Congress has introduced two bills—SESTA in the Senate (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) in the House. The two bills take different approaches in crafting a legislative solution, but the core of what they seek to do is similar. Both bills have enjoyed broad-based, and bipartisan support, and both bills have made real progress in moving through the legislative process this year.