By Katie Mahon, Communications Manager
The fight to end human trafficking and child abuse is an issue that cries out for attention.
Last week on the Hearts Afire Podcast, many listened to Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP, discuss her advocacy efforts with US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and her support of the Earn It Act, legislation to eliminate the online sexual abuse of children.
Sr. Arlene, a Sister of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York, serves as a USCSAHT Legislative advocacy committee member. In this ministry, she works on legislative policies to end human trafficking and provide legal and social services to survivors.
“For the past two years, we’ve been working on getting Congress to pass legislation to end the trafficking of child sexual abuse material online,” shared Sr. Arlene.
She went on to explain that “one of the fastest-growing sectors of human trafficking today is child online sexual exploitation.”
“In 2018, the New York Times published an investigation that revealed that tech companies reported 45 million images online of children being sexually abused, more than double that they found in the previous year. Since the pandemic, nearly 85 million images, videos, and other content related to child sexual exploitation have been found online.”
The Earn It Act, which Sr. Arlene has been advocating for, removes “immunity for social media and technology companies that knowingly facilitate the distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material on their platforms. It updates existing federal statutes to use the term child sexual abuse material instead of child pornography. The term child pornography fails to describe the true nature of the images that are being uploaded. It creates a commission of survivors and tech companies and other stakeholders to create recommendations and best practices for tech companies to respond to the global pandemic of online sexual exploitation of children.”
The day after Sr. Arlene recorded her episode, a bipartisan vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Earn It Act.
If you would like to support Sr. Arlene’s efforts and the Earn It Act, send a message to legislators by clicking here.