House Passes Sinema-Cosponsored Bill to Fight Online Sex Trafficking

Legislation addresses rise in human trafficking in Arizona

Sinema has worked for years to combat sex trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill cosponsored by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) to fight human trafficking. The legislation, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), empowers local law enforcement to bring websites that facilitate or promote sex trafficking to justice, striking at the heart of a growing illegal industry that scars thousands of young lives in Arizona and across the country.

 “We have a moral obligation to fight sex trafficking, which rips apart families and afflicts communities across Arizona,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “This is an important step to address an international crisis, but it cannot be our last. I’ll keep working across the political divide to get results that fight human trafficking and stand up for Arizona families.”

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Director of Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, commended the passage of the Sinema-cosponsored bill. “I applaud Congresswoman Sinema’s support of FOSTA and her long history fighting human trafficking,” said Roe-Sepowitz. “I've studied sex trafficking and worked with survivors for years. FOSTA will help prosecutors put these criminals behind bars and protect trafficking victims.”

Some web platforms have exploited a loophole in current law that exempts them from responsibility for content uploaded by their users, even if that content promotes sexual exploitation and trafficking. FOSTA closes that loophole, allowing prosecutors to hold operators of websites that knowingly promote human trafficking criminally liable. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been over 36,000 cases of human trafficking in the United States since 2007. Nearly 70 percent of these cases involved sexual exploitation. 

Sinema has spent her entire career standing up for victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse. In her first job – working at a domestic violence shelter – she cared for women and girls who had survived rape and domestic violence. Sinema worked with children in the Sunnyslope, Arizona community for almost a decade. She drew on this experience in the state legislature, where she worked across the aisle to pass reforms that increased penalties for human traffickers.

In the House, Sinema has been a leader in the fight against sex trafficking. In 2014, she helped pass comprehensive legislation to expand the resources available to trafficking victims and improve government agencies' response to the problem. Sinema also cosponsored legislation to criminalize the advertisement of innocent victims being forced into sex trafficking. That bill, the SAVE Act, was signed into law in 2015. Last year, the Congresswoman cosponsored and passed the TARGET Act, which improves State Department efforts to counter human trafficking. She continues to push for passage of the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, of which she is a cosponsor.