On April 11, 2018, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, also known as SESTA, was signed into law. This is a major victory and a milestone in the fight against sex trafficking.
The internet has become the new street corner for the marketing, buying and selling of sex and sex trafficking. According to Polaris, some popular commercial websites may be facilitating trafficking through their business practices. The National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888, which is operated by Polaris, received approximately 2,000 reports of sex trafficking through online advertisements. The United States Senate, the tech community and anti-trafficking groups worked together to find a solution. SESTA provides a long overdue update to the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and will hold websites like Backpage accountable when they knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. SESTA also allows victims of sex trafficking to seek civil remedy against the websites that facilitated their victimization. Late last week, the Department of Justice shut down Backpage.com which is the largest online marketplace for sex trafficking in the United States. Websites like this and dozens of others will now be held liable for actively facilitating human trafficking.
While this is a victory against human trafficking, there is still much work to be done. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) expired in September 2017. The TVPA was originally passed in 2000 and has been reauthorized four times since. The TVPA provides the legal foundation in the United States to combat human trafficking and it authorizes the federal funds needed to provide and support domestic and international anti-trafficking programs to support victims and survivors. Please call your Representative through the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell your Representative to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as soon as possible. Below is a sample script.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania is a congregation of vowed religious women, agregees and associates who minister in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. The congregation is part of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph (www.cssjed.org) composed of more than 4,203 sisters, 25 agregees, and 3,032 associates. The Sisters of St. Joseph of NW PA is working with the Crime Victim Center (www.cvcerie.org) of Erie, Pennsylvania to increase an awareness of human trafficking.