For the last two years, the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit has included a “Day on the Hill” where leaders in the anti-exploitation movement descend on DC and visit every U.S. Congressional office with a message of abolition!
The day begins with trainings on advocacy and public policy, then participants file onto buses and flood the U.S. Capitol!
While a major goal of the day is to help empower and equip leaders engaged in this movement to participate in policy-making back home by holding hands and practicing this sometimes scary outreach all together, another major goal is actually pushing specific policy suggestions at the federal level and making sure that our elected officials are tuned in and helping to solve the complex problems of sexual exploitation.
This year, the participants in the 2019 CESE Summit Day on the Hill canvassed every single congressional office! They were able to talk with key congressional staffers and even directly to a number of elected officials about four specific policy points.
We are writing to tell you of some major progress that has already occurred on all four points!
POINT #1: We asked Congress to help hold technology companies accountable and to assist specifically in calling for an independent app ratings board and for default settings based on age for digital devices.
THE VICTORY: On July 12, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an official Congressional Hearing on this matter! Now, key members in the House and the Senate are looking into this matter further and are speaking publicly about the need to curb sexual exploitation occurring on these online platforms.
POINT #2: We asked Congress to make sure “sex trafficking” is recognized as a form of sexual assault and violence against women and to include this in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
The House version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) scaled back sex trafficking language. Therefore, we requested that during the House and Senate reconciliation of VAWA that sex trafficking be incorporated throughout the bill.
There is no doubt that sex trafficking belongs in this category. It is a form of sexual assault experienced on a serial basis; it is closely linked with intimate partner violence; and it impacts mostly marginalized women and children of color. Removing this from VAWA will significantly reduce funding for direct services and set our movement back.
THE PROGRESS: This is still getting a lot of attention and discussion and we are hopeful that it will be included in the bill.
POINT #3: We asked Congress to recognize that, because prostitution is a system that causes inescapable trauma to vulnerable persons, “on ramps” to prostitution must be blocked and robust “off ramps” must be created/improved. Specifically, we asked that legislation be reintroduced in the Senate, and then supported by the House, which formally recognizes the link between human trafficking and drug addiction and which would criminalize the use of drugs to facilitate human trafficking.
THE VICTORY: This week, Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) will introduce the legislation with the “Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking (PROTECT) Act.”
POINT #4: We asked Congress to direct the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce existing federal obscenity laws which prohibit the distribution of hardcore pornography via the Internet, cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel television, retail shops, etc. The lack of enforcement of these laws has contributed to child pornography exposure abuse, child sexual exploitation, child-on-child harmful sexual behavior, demand for prostitution and sex trafficking, and a wide range of public health harms.
THE PROGRESS: The pressure on this is heating up in Washington and, since the 2019 CESE Global Summit, NCOSE has led a number of helpful meetings with key leaders on this issue–including meetings at the U.S. Department of Justice directly. We are hopeful!
This real, tangible progress wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful work done by the Day on the Hill Summit attendees! Because they were able to canvas every congressional office, the right people heard about these issues and decided to do something about them!
If you want to be a part of the process in such a valuable and hands-on way, then there’s an opportunity for you to get involved in next year’s Day on the Hill at the 2020 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit. Tickets are on sale now for the event which will again be held in the Washington, DC area from July 22-25, 2020 (the Day on the Hill will be July 22).
Every single voice counts and we would love to have yours join in the call for the U.S. government to take action against sexual exploitation!