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The Long Night Survivor Helps Pass Historic Law

Today we celebrate legislation that has been passed to protect young people from sexual exploitation with the passage of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Sex Online Trafficking Act of 2017We celebrate especially those advocates, featured in our film The Long Night, known to us as Natalie and Nacole, who fought tirelessly to make this happen.

As she stood by the President’s side to sign this legislation into law, Natalie finally reclaimed her name: Jessika.

Jessika, the fifteen-year old girl from suburban Seattle who was forced into prostitution and is featured in The Long Night, has been an advocate in this cause, claiming that her pimp used the website Backpage.com to fuel his business, and her enslavement. She helped to shut down backpage.com last year and now has worked for legislation that “makes it easier for prosecutors and victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep sex trafficking and exploitive materials off their platforms,” as explained by Reuters.

108 days after her disappearance, Jessika’s Backpage ad was targeted as part of a sting by the Seattle Vice Squad. There, she was rescued by officers who understood her situation and have since helped her testify in the case against her pimp. Her pimp, Baruti Hopson, has been sentenced to 26 and a half years in prison for promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor. That was just the start and today, Jessika has made the type of change that will protect young girls for years to come.

The Long Night was a co-production with filmmaker Tim Matsui, who found this story and brought it to us with the help of the Alexia Foundation’s Women’s Initiative. 

Jessika and Nacole, very simply, are our role models. They used their pain and tragic experience to become strong voices against the sexual exploitation of minors. In helping to close the adult ad section of Backpage, they have made the world just a little bit safer for our children. We thank you for all you have done and hope that in documenting your experiences in The Long Night, we made this fight, a little easier too.

Watch their story here.

 

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