July 24, 2015

Pornography Foes: Make This a Health Issue

By Jennifer Calfas

Ed Smart almost didn’t want to hear the details of his daughter’s abduction. They were too upsetting.

Smart is the father of Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her Utah home in 2002 at age 14. She told him the details of her abductor’s obsession with violence, sex – and porn. She was found nine months later and testified to being raped and abused each day.

“Pornography provides a slippery slope to take the next step to abuse and exploitation,” Ed Smart, who serves as the vice president of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, said Tuesday.

Smart was one of eight public health experts, social researchers and legal experts who addressed the connection between sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography in an event held at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), an organization that aims to highlight these links, hosted the event, which drew more than 150 Congress staff members, advocates for ending sexual exploitation and members of the public.

NCSE says pornography may be at the root of sexual exploitation, and it shapes the minds of children. Several of the speakers addressed this issue Tuesday, citing a host of studies that note how violent pornography creates a desire to rape or abuse. The group also said pornography is connected to sex trafficking and prostitution and promotes violence against women and children.

Citing cultural expectations and research, each speaker emphasized the same point: Pornography is a public health issue…

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