- - Thursday, April 12, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The “world’s oldest profession” it may be, but prostitution and human trafficking have moved briskly into the 21st century. The Internet is crowded with websites purveying sex for money.

President Trump and Congress finally took a whack at this grotesque “industry.” President Donald Trump signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, a verbose title shortened to FOSTA. The new law, which was enacted with wide bipartisan support, strengthens the ability of prosecutors to go after websites and Internet companies that knowingly practice or encourage sex trafficking. Websites that once bore no responsibility for their wanton abuse of women, a few men and many children, can now be held accountable. The Communications Decency Act has been duly amended. The law further enhances the ability of victims to make those responsible for their bondage pay up.

George Bernard Shaw, in his play “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” gave prostitution semi-respectability it did not deserve, because prostitutes are usually treated as no more than slaves. “Human trafficking is a modern form of the oldest and most barbaric type of exploitation,” President Trump rightly said on signing the new law. “It has no place in our world,” and the new law “will give law enforcement and victims new tools to fight sex trafficking.”

The mother of a young woman who died because of sex trafficking — she was murdered by a pimp — was an appropriate witness to the bill signing. “I will live with the heavy pain of losing my sweet daughter every single day for the rest of my life,” Yvonne Ambrose of Chicago says. “But, being at the White House to witness the signing of this monumental bill into law is proof that our fight against online sex-trafficking has made a change, a change that will save the life of someone else’s daughter.”

The signing of the law comes close after the shuttering of websites like Backpage, a grotesque online bazaar of human flesh, including that of children, and the sex section of the website Craigslist. This is expected to curtail the booming market for human flesh. Between 20 million and 30 million men, women and children are currently enslaved across the globe, says the State Department. Every year 600,000 to 800,000 people are smuggled across international borders. Of those, 80 percent are female. Half are children. Given their size, the United States are a big part of this problem. “The United States is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children — both United States citizens and foreign nationals — victimized by human trafficking and sex trafficking,” the White House says. Indeed, a civilization that will not protect women and children is no civilization at all.

Such a blow against such an outrage would seem to be saluted by one and all. If it’s harder to obtain prostitutes, it follows that demand should eventually fall, and after that supply as well. But certain voices on the left and in Silicon Valley take a different view of decency and honor.

“The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients,” says one participant in the late Women’s March. “Sex workers rights are women’s rights.” The term “sex workers” is the new term for “prostitutes,” which replaced “whores,” the word used in the Bible, where the power of language is not diluted to satisfy the squeamish.

Silicon Valley, which has had a rough week in Congress, opposed the new law, too. The tech companies are afraid they will be held legally responsible for what they publish. It’s a novel idea in an era when the tech companies say they’re merely “facilitating connections,” rather than making the connections as publishers. The Internet Association, a trade group made up of the likes of Google and Facebook, opposed enactment of the law.

The pornographers are unhappy, too. “This bill claims to target human trafficking, but does so by creating new penalties for online platforms that are overwhelmingly used by consensual, adult sex workers to screen clients, to share ‘bad date lists,’ to work indoors, and to otherwise communicate with each other about ways to stay alive,” wrote one artist of sleaze.

The new law is hardly a latter day Emancipation Proclamation. But it’s a blow against slavery nonetheless. Congress and President Trump have done something worthwhile, and better late than never they deserve the thanks of men and women of decency, honor and goodwill.


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