NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--World Without Exploitation (WorldWE), the national coalition to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation, today celebrated a monumental victory for the survivor community with the Senate’s passage of FOSTA-SESTA. This important legislation now moves to the President of the United States, and, if signed into law, will enable state law enforcement and survivors to seek justice against websites that under current federal law can host sex ads for trafficked children and adults.
H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) with key provisions of S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), was approved by the House of Representatives in a 388-25 vote on Feb. 27. The bill, led by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), passed the Senate with a 97-2 vote.
“To the websites that for years have hidden behind Section 230 and profited from the sale of vulnerable women and children, know that your time has run out,” said Lauren Hersh, national director and co-founder of WorldWE. “Survivors have led the movement to make FOSTA-SESTA a reality, with the bold leadership of Sens. Portman and Blumenthal, Reps. Wagner and Walters, and so many others. Today, we celebrate not simply a legislative victory, but a significant change in our response to sexual exploitation.”
“We are witnessing a truly historic moment for survivors of human trafficking in our country,” said Nikki Bell, founder and director of Living in Freedom Together (LIFT), a survivor-led organization. “Time and time again, the survivor community has fought for justice and lost in the courts due to a law that desperately needed updating. Today, as FOSTA-SESTA moves forward, we are another step closer to disrupting an industry built on so much violence and pain.”
With the growth of the Internet, human trafficking that once happened mainly on street corners has largely shifted online. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives from the public each year involve ads on the website Backpage.com. The anonymity and ease with which victims can be bought and sold on the Internet has created a multi-billion-dollar industry, and a tremendous surge in online exploitation across the United States.
The narrowly written FOSTA-SESTA legislation provides a long-needed update to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The bill clarifies that websites such as Backpage.com that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be sued for damages and held accountable under state anti-trafficking criminal laws. It has the support of 50 attorneys general, law enforcement, prosecutors, survivors, nonprofits and corporate leaders like Oracle, IBM and Disney.
To learn more about WorldWE, hear survivor stories, donate, and join our movement to create a world without exploitation, please visit http://www.worldwithoutexploitation.org/.
About World Without Exploitation
World Without Exploitation (WorldWE) is a national coalition of more than 100 organizations and individuals committed to human rights, civil rights, and gender justice. WordWE’s mission is to create a world where no person is bought, sold or exploited. The coalition aims to create a culture where those who have been trafficked or sexually exploited are treated as victims of a crime, not criminals themselves, while those who purchase, sell or exploit another human being are punished.