Grace Farms hosts panel discussion on modern day slavery
NEW CANAAN — “Today we are a family that has survived something that no family should ever have experienced. We are advocates across the country to let people know that you don’t have to come from a broken home to become a victim of child sex trafficking. All you have to be is a child.”
Nacole S. told her story as the mother of a trafficked child. Her story is one of many featured in the 2017 “I Am Jane Doe” documentary at a panel on modern-day slavery held Jan. 12 at Grace Farms.
Director of the Justice Initiative at Grace Farms Foundation Krishna Patel moderated the discussion which included Sen. Chris Murphy (D) and Vincent Nappo, a partner at the law firm Peau Cochran Vetetis Amala.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1.5 to 2.5 million runways or youth every year end up in an endangered situation. Patel noted that in the report there were 202 children in Connecticut that were identified as victims of child trafficking. It was reported that 184 were female, 17 were male and one transgender child.
The conversation touched certain points, particularly an online advertisements page, Backpage.com, which has been an enabler of child trafficking efforts by financially benefiting from ads placed on its website.
“There are a handful of bad actors in the US,” Murphy said. “Since Craigslist took down their sex ads in 2010, about two-thirds to three-fourths of ads now regarding people being trafficked for sex happens on Backpage.com. They’ve been doing everything possible to avoid culpability.”
The panelists argued that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, effectively immunizes websites from content posted by third parties, including selling children for sex.
“This means if you’re a service provider and other people can post content on your website, you’re not responsible for the postings of other people. This is at the intersection of our most fundamental values and privacy rights,” Nappo said.
Murphy is one of the 60 co-sponsors of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The bill currently awaits a vote ahead of the full Senate and eventually move towards the House of Representatives if passed. “There have been concerns raised by the tech community about the scope of liability that they would have under this bill. All we’re trying to say is that companies that are selling sex online should be held accountable in court,” Murphy told the New Canaan News.
Nacole had been in Washington D.C. the day before the panel. “I always say that I’m one person and that I have no say in the state of Connecticut but I need your help. I’m slowly building an army and I’m asking you to help me be my voice for Connecticut.”
The trauma of having a missing child for 108 weeks impacted Nacole’s family. “This breaks so many families and people. My husband became an alcoholic for two years and my son almost left college. In some ways we’re stronger and closer but this affects everybody.”