It all started on a cold New York day 60 years ago – December 3, 1962.
Alarmed about the harms of pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation, a group of concerned citizens formed a grassroots effort to stop its destructive influence on their children and community.
Those courageous individuals launched a movement that would eventually become the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).
For 60 years, NCOSE has been an advocate for human dignity, a voice for those who have suffered from sexual abuse and exploitation, and a driver of personal and cultural change.
Our work centers around three core objectives:
- DISMANTLING THE PORNOGRAPHY INFRASTRUCTURE AND MAKING PORN INTOLERABLE IN SOCIETY
- ENDING SEX TRAFFICKING, PROSTITUTION, AND ALL EXPLOITATION BY CHALLENGING SEX BUYERS
- DEMANDING A SAFER INTERNET SO YOUTH CAN CONNECT, LEARN, LOVE AND THRIVE
But we have not done this work alone! As we celebrate the progress that has been made towards these core objectives in NCOSE’s 60 years of existence – and the past year in particular – we are overwhelmed with gratitude for our supporters and allies who have made all these victories possible.
That’s why we’ve renamed our annual Impact Report our “Gratitude Report.” The 2022 Gratitude Report summarizes all the victories from the past year, that have happened because of you!
Together we are making history – just as those citizens did on that cold day in December 1962.
Read on to see some key highlights from the 2022 Gratitude Report. These are only a few of the many victories you’ve helped us accomplish in 2022 alone.
2022 was a big year for the anti-exploitation movement. 🙌 Look at everything you've made possible! https://t.co/G9nXHWZEoF— National Center on Sexual Exploitation (@NCOSE) January 15, 2023
Objective: Dismantling the Pornography Infrastructure and Making Porn Intolerable in Society
Just a few years ago, holding Internet pornography websites accountable under the law for their role in hosting, distributing, and profiting from child sexual abuse material (CSAM), rape, sex trafficking, and sexual abuse images seemed to be an impossible task. It also seemed impossible to prevent our children from being exposed to the violent and objectifying content on these sites, which was accessible to them with a quick google search.
But now, thanks to your partnership, what was once seen as impossible has become possible.
Together, we are making great strides in protecting our children and ending the age of impunity that Big Porn has enjoyed for far too long. Here are just a few highlights from the past year:
- In February, a federal court issued a first in the nation order and opinion in our Law Center’s lawsuit, Doe #1 et al, v. MG Freesites LTD et al, rejecting MindGeek’s (the owner of Pornhub) claim of immunity under federal law. This opened the door for other lawsuits on behalf of survivors whose images have been trafficked on Internet platforms. Doe #1 et al, v. MG Freesites LTD et al is just one of more than a dozen lawsuits NCOSE is involved in against Big Porn.
- Mainstream social media companies are refusing to provide Pornhub with a platform for implicit advertising. Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube have all agreed to remove Pornhub’s account, after NCOSE shared evidence of Pornhub’s criminality and how they were violating the platforms’ policies.
- Visa and Mastercard finally cut ties with MindGeek’s advertising arm, TrafficJunky. In addition, after NCOSE renewed public pleas to both Mastercard and Visa, Mastercard ceased processing payments for Pornhub’s biggest competitor, XVideos.
- Louisiana passed a groundbreaking new law that will force pornography websites to verify that those accessing their sites are over age 18, thus preventing children from accessing their harmful content. This is the first NCOSE-backed age-verification bill to be enacted in the United States! We have big plans to push this legislation elsewhere in 2023-2024.
Objective: Ending Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and All Exploitation by Challenging Sex Buyers
If we are going to end prostitution and sex trafficking, it is critical that we address the root cause driving the demand for paid sex: the sex buyer. Without those choosing to purchase other people for sex, there would be no economic motivation for prostitution or sex trafficking to exist. No buyers=No business.
Yet sex buyers are often left unchecked, despite the key role they play in motivating sexual exploitation and the incalculable harm they inflict on victims (Learn more about why addressing sex buying is critical to ending sexual exploitation here).
Here are some highlights from the past year on how NCOSE and our allies are working to reduce the demand for paid sex:
- Our Policy team blocked efforts to remove sex buying from the federal law defining sex trafficking. This was a key goal that our opposition was pursuing in order to undermine any significant efforts to truly shrink the commercial sex trade. This legislation will pass by the end of 2022.
- Our Policy team also stopped efforts by local district attorneys to adopt policies that would not prosecute buyers and pimps, as well as halted full decriminalization of sex buying bills from passing in any state legislature where it was introduced.
- To equip law enforcement with the tools needed to combat sex buying, we created the ELEET (Equipping Law Enforcement to End Trafficking) Training Program, facilitated by NCOSE’s Dr. Stephany Powell, a 30+ year veteran in law enforcement with a deep expertise in survivor services, and Dr. Michael Shively, the nation’s foremost expert on methodologies used to combat sex buying. After one ELEET session, 80% of those in attendance agreed that reducing demand needed to become an increased priority for law enforcement.
- Nevada is the only state where sex buying, pimping, and brothel keeping is legal in certain areas. As a result, sex trafficking and prostitution have exploded there. NCOSE has filed a groundbreaking lawsuit, Williams et al. v. Sisolak, et.al., against the state to bring that to an end. A major claim in the case is that these defendants, acting as they did and continue to do, create conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage for trafficked women that is unique to Nevada and these conditions, and constitutes a violation of the 13th Amendment, which banned both slavery and involuntary servitude. We are challenging these policies – and sending a message to other states considering such a change. (Learn more about the Nevada lawsuit here.)
- Our Research Institute team is concluding its two-year NIJ federal grant to build out and update the Demand Forum website which comprehensively documents demand-reduction tactics in the United States. Fifteen of these tactics have been documented in more than 2,600 cities and counties, providing law enforcement agencies, policy makers, and community leaders with practical insights and tools to reduce the demand for paid sex and sex trafficking.
Objective: Demanding a Safer Internet so Youth Can Connect, Learn, Love and Thrive
The Internet has opened up a Pandora’s Box of threats to our children. These threats include grooming by online predators to be sexually abused or sex trafficked; having sexually explicit images and videos shared online that will haunt our children for the rest of their lives; exposure to pornography; messages encouraging harmful sexual behavior like sexting, hookup sex, and more; and the mental health impacts of seeing countless objectifying messages.
But thanks to your partnership, we are making significant progress in transforming the Internet into a safer place for children. Some highlights from the past year:
- This year Congress introduced SIX bills on online child safety, five with bipartisan support! Congress hasn’t addressed these issues in a serious way since the early 2000s!
- Following six years of advocacy from NCOSE, Snapchat released its first set of parental controls, named “Family Center”, providing parents with the ability to view their children’s friends and report suspicious accounts. NCOSE participated in discussions and official expert consultations around the Family Center development.
- After a half-dozen consultations with NCOSE, Apple announced multiple improvements to their parental controls, named “Screen Time”. These improvements included defaulting content restrictions based on a user’s age, and providing a “checklist” of safety features to ensure parents know what is available for them to protect their children.
- Our lawsuit against Twitter for facilitating and profiting from sexual abuse images of two young boys continues to move forward in the federal courts. It is presently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- The International Center on Sexual Exploitation – a division of NCOSE – played a key role in the effort resulting in the establishment of November 18th as the U.N. World Day Aimed at Ending Child Sexual Exploitation and Violence. This day will bring together survivors, civil society, and governments to focus and better align vital resources, heighten awareness of the problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse (including the role the internet plays in facilitating this abuse), and support victims and their families in their quest for healing and justice.
ACTION: Invite Others to Join You in the Fight!
None of this progress would have been possible without the support of people like you, who care about ending sexual abuse and exploitation. These issues are dark, but there are many reasons to hope.
Will you invite others to join you in this fight? Share this blog with your networks so that others can see what is possible when we unite our passion and efforts!
Together, we WILL build a world where all can live and love free from sexual abuse and exploitation!