exploitation of women and children on the Internet are minimized by claims that pornographers have always been the first to take advantage of new technology - first photography, then movies, then VCRs, now, the Internet. Those concerned about the use of the Internet for sexual exploitation are chastened with history lectures on new technology and pornography.
While the history about pimps and predators being the first to adopt new technology is correct, so is it the case that when those with power introduce a new technology into a system of oppression, it serves to expand the exploitation. The promotion and engagement of trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children on the Internet expands men’s treatment and access to women as sexual commodities.
To counter these powerful alliances who are profiting from the sale and abuse of women and children is a small, but dedicated, international feminist movement for women’s rights. These women from around the world are demanding a redefinition of men’s use of women. They have made the crimes of battering and rape visible. Now, women are working to make the crimes of sexual exploitation visible. No longer is prostitution labeled as immoral behavior, or pornography called indecent pictures. Women human rights activists are naming the harm to women as violence and sexual exploitation, which violate women’s human dignity, human rights and chance for equal opportunities in society. In November 1996, at the international meeting, “Violence, Abuse and Women’s Citizenship” in Brighton, England, the conference organizers took an uncompromising stand against sexual exploitation by naming all forms of sexual exploitation, including prostitution, as violence against women
"The steering group is uncompromisingly anti-prostitution. We do not recognise the false distinctions between forced and so-called free prostitution. There is no platform for a pro-prostitution position at this conference. We deliberately chose to have keynote speakers who reflected our own position on pornography and prostitution. We make no apologies for this choice; we have no regrets about it. We consider all of the issues discussed at this conference to be violence against women. It is unfortunately rare these days, for feminists to have access to a conference which is clear and uncompromising in its opposition to prostitution. We are glad that we have been able to give that space to women here who are working against the international sex industry. We hope it has given them strength in continuing their fight."279
We are at a critical point for women’s human rights. We can go with the predator’s view that the Internet is just a new technology being used to transmit men’s entertainment. We can also choose to accept the pimp’s redefinition of pornography and prostitution as forms of sex work. Or we can begin to make real change to advance women’s dignity and equality, by defining forms of sexual exploitation as human rights violations and crimes against women, which we will not allow in our communities or on the Internet.