POLITICS

House Passes Bill Banning Sex Dolls That Look Like Children

Next, the measure heads to the Senate, where it's expected to be approved.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Sex dolls that resemble children will likely be banned in the U.S. very soon. 

The House unanimously approved the Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedolphilic Robots Act on Wednesday, legislation that will prohibit the import of childlike sex dolls, robots or mannequins. The measure now heads to the Senate, where it’s also likely to be approved.

This would be the first law to prevent selling and distributing of child sex dolls and robots in the U.S.

“There is a correlation between possession of the obscene dolls, and robots, and possession of and participation in child pornography,” the bill reads. 

Dolls like these are customizable to include accessories such as false eyelashes and wigs, and settings to change facial expressions to fear and sadness. Some robots have settings that stimulate rape, which the House legislation says makes “rape easier by teaching the rapist about how to overcome resistance and subdue the victim.”

The robots, imported from China, Hong Kong or Japan, are labeled as clothing mannequins or models in order to avoid detection. 

The sponsor, Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), released a statement on Wednesday encouraging the Senate to quickly approve the measure. 

“Right now, a few clicks on a computer can allow a predator to order a vile child sex doll. This is not only disturbing ― but also endangers the most innocent among us,” Donovan said. “Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child.” 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said the dolls “create a real risk of reinforcing pedophilic behavior.” 

“I’m happy that this legislation is moving through and we are taking steps to address a problem that very much needs to be addressed,” Goodlatte said in a Wednesday statement

“I’m distraught, however, that this problem even exists ― I am saddened that there are people in this world who would create realistic child sex dolls and distraught that there are people in this world who would buy them,” Goodlatte continued. 

A few U.S.-based internet retailers offer childlike sex dolls. In April, Amazon announced that it will no longer sell anatomically correct child sex dolls. 

Some advocates argue that sex dolls that resemble children actually provide a safe outlet for pedophiles. University of Toronto forensic psychologist and sexologist Michael Seto compared childlike sex robots for pedophiles with methadone treatment for heroin addicts. 

“For some pedophiles, access to artificial child pornography or to child sex dolls could be a safer outlet for their sexual urges, reducing the likelihood that they would seek out child pornography or sex with real children,” Seto told The Atlantic in 2016. “For others, having these substitutes might only aggravate their sense of frustration.”

Other experts, including Kathleen Richardson, a De Montfort University professor of ethics and culture of robots, said victims of child abusers don’t support the use of robots. 

“They say that pedophiles who offend are so cut off from their own humanity that giving them a machine wouldn’t address the underlying problem,” Richardson told NBC News in January. 

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