Update March 29, 2021: Unfortunately, this bill has been passed and signed into law.
Sex dolls bans are “child protection theater”—they do nothing to protect real children from abuse, while providing cover for the insidious expansion of obscenity law. South Dakota’s bill SB-126 would solve a problem that doesn’t exist—there has never been a reported case of sex doll ownership escalating to hands-on child sexual abuse, and the world’s leading experts on pedophilia say that dolls may even help prevent abuse. Prostasia Foundation is raising funds for research to confirm whether this is the case.
Apart from flouting the recommendations of public health experts, SB-126 would also be unconstitutional. Allowing the government to criminalize people for how they masturbate in their own homes infringes their right to privacy and also their freedom of expression. A proposed sex doll ban failed in Germany last year after experts exposed it as “the opposite of a well thought-out reform.” Such laws don’t just target pedophiles: in countries where bans are in place, doll owners have been arrested even if their dolls had adult features such as large breasts. The South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has criticized SB-126 for its overbroad language and for criminalizing a victimless act.
Don’t let emotional scare tactics win out over sound science. Write to your South Dakota representative to ask them to abandon this unconstitutional and stigma-driven law, and instead to support real, evidence-based interventions such as comprehensive sex education that have been proved to help prevent real children from being abused. Read more in our letter to the South Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee.