Mary Leary, professor, law, co-authored commentary in the Huffington Post with alumnus Kevin Ryan on how Congress can side with women and fight sex trafficking.
There has been a great deal of discussion in Washington these last few weeks about women. As sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations surface regarding many people in power, Congress is struggling to find its voice. While all members of Congress can claim they want a world where women are not sexually objectified, harassed, or assaulted, these words need to be backed up by action – not just action regarding sexual harassment training for Congressmen. Such efforts run the risk of being merely symbolic. They must be supported by meaningful legislation that conveys a sustained message that women and girls are not solely sexual objects; and that no one should able to exploit or profit from their exploitation. Now, that would be a change.
Congress has just such a chance to do so. Two bills are pending before it that address the crime of sex trafficking. According to the United Nations, this is a crime whose victims are over 95% women and girls. It disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and marginalized in the country. Many of these women and girls are sold online, and the websites that sell them have been given immunity by the courts. Yes, victims of sex trafficking are bought and sold in the public square, and the websites that facilitate this have been given immunity for their actions.