Second to speak was David Greene, Civil Liberties Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
(EFF), who provided an update on the status of the lawsuit to overturn FOSTA, the overbroad and (as the lawsuit's plaintiffs claim) unconstitutional anti-trafficking law. FOSTA has made it more difficult to investigate cases of child sex trafficking, while making the lives of adult sex workers that much more difficult and dangerous, and censoring much legitimate speech about sex.
Following David were two speakers from constituencies that aren't usually represented at events of child protection organizations, still less on their advisory boards: Ian O'Brien from the Free Speech Coalition which is the industry association for the adult entertainment and pleasure products industries, and Meagan Ingerman, a childcare worker and child development specialist who also represents the consensual kink community.
Both Ian and Meagan explained that far from being inappropriate, it is vital to engage these communities in the fight against child sexual abuse, and that they already observe many good practices from which the broader community could learn. For example, Ian quipped "I can't think of another industry that is more explicitly identified in its opposition to [involving] children," a sentiment that Meagan echoed by saying "my thing when I encounter minors in kink is, first of all, that's great that you're interested, please come back when you're 18, and here are some books to read."
Carol Queen closed the evening with a remarkable anecdote about her experience as a sex worker with a man who identified to her as having been a sex offender against teens. After learning about the harmful effects of this behavior the man realized that it was wrong, and instead took up consensual "ageplay" fantasies with sex workers as a way of acting out his sexual interest in a harmless way.
The controversial nature of interventions such as this, along with the sex dolls that the CREEPER Act would ban, was discussed during question time. As Meagan noted in her response to an audience member who voiced concerns about this approach, "the reality is that we don't have the research to know if that would keep somebody from offending, and personally… I'd rather have someone with a childlike robot than an actual child."
These are difficult issues to talk about or research, but it is vitally important that we begin to do so as a society, if we really wish to make progress in the battle to eliminate child sexual abuse. By itself, our society's existing reactive and carceral approach is barely scratching the surface of the problem. Prostasia Foundation believes we could do better with an evidence-based primary prevention approach
, that could avoid children from being harmed to begin with.
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