November 30, 2017

Tackling Modern-Day Slavery, Online Sex Trafficking

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on H.R. 1865, the Allowing States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), which was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Ann Wagner. This narrowly crafted legislation is a critical tool for amending section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), an outdated law that has been interpreted by the courts to grant third-party websites that facilitate sex trafficking broad immunity.

The hearing comes in the wake of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) arresting 22 men for soliciting sex with a minor on the classified ads website, Backpage, which is notorious for facilitating the sex trafficking of minors.

Without question, the law must do more to protect the vulnerable, especially women and children, from being sexually exploited and trafficked online. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation stands with and applauds the bipartisan group of lawmakers who understand that this reform is absolutely essential.

No one can in good conscience hear testimonies detailing the horrors of online sex trafficking without asking, “What more can be done to put an end to this modern-day slavery and to crack down on any entity that facilitates it, either knowingly or with reckless disregard?” There’s only one meaningful answer to that question: Congress must amend the Communications Decency Act.

Support for amending the CDA gained considerable ground earlier this month when a similar measure, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), was passed unanimously by the Senate’s Commerce Committee. Senator Ron Wyden subsequently placed a hold on the bill—an action which has raised the ire of sex trafficking survivors. More than 100 survivors have joined a letter calling on Wyden to support SESTA.

To learn more about the Communications Decency Act and its role in facilitating online sex trafficking visit endsexualexploitation.org/cda. 

Lisa L. Thompson

Vice President of Research and Education

Lisa L. Thompson serves as the Vice President of Research and Education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, where she oversees NCOSE’s strategic planning for increased public understanding of sexual exploitation related issues. To this end Lisa conducts analysis, develops research initiatives, and liaises with a wide-range of public officials, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher learning, and academics to generate collaborative action to combat the full spectrum of sexual exploitation especially as pertains to the harms of pornography, stripping, prostitution, and sexual trafficking.

Lisa joins the NCOSE following nearly two years with World Hope International (WHI), where as its Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa administered WHI’s anti-trafficking and sexual-violence recovery programs in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While working for WHI Lisa also served as a steering committee member of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), a collaboration initiative she helped found, and as a reviewer for the Journal of Human Trafficking.

She has written on the subjects of sexual trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation for publications such as Christian History and Biography, Caring, Mutuality, PRISM, and Social Work and Christianity. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global in which she contributed chapters about the use of torture by pimps, as well as the policy conflicts between sex trafficking abolitionists and HIV/AIDS advocates. She is the co-editor of a special anti-trafficking edition of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work journal Social Work & Christianity and has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress. Lisa routinely speaks about sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution, pornography, stripping), and facilitates anti-trafficking training events for a diverse range of audiences.

Additionally, Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters. In that role she pioneered strategies for The Salvation Army to create recovery services for survivors of sexual trafficking and advocated on public policy issues and initiatives related to combating sexual trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Lisa chaired The Salvation Army’s North American Anti-Trafficking Council and directed its Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. Previous to her arrival at The Salvation Army, Lisa served as Policy Representative for the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC, from 1998 to 2001. While there, she was heavily involved in NAE’s advocacy efforts seeking passage of legislation now known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. She has also worked for consulting firms managing Community Develop Block Grants programs in Kentucky, and taught English as a second language in the People’s Republic of China.

Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Western Kentucky University, and her Master’s degree in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute and University.

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