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Illinois Rep. Barb Wheeler warns porn 'is not a victimless crime'

House Resolution 727: Porn creates 'sexually toxic environment'

Barbara Wheeler candidate McHenry County Board  District 3
Barbara Wheeler candidate McHenry County Board District 3

State Rep. Barb Wheeler has a warning for anyone who enjoys pornography: "Pornography is not a victimless crime," she said.

The Crystal Lake Republican is the driving force behind House Resolution 727, which says pornography creates a "sexually toxic environment," "treats women as objects" and "normalizes violence and abuse."

"The most vulnerable members of society – our children – are often exposed to pornographic material," reads the resolution, which has been recommended for approval in the Human Services Committee.

Wheeler said the measure aims to reveal an industry that puts women at risk of coercion and extortion.

"That resolution is to educate people who passively participate in porn about the people on the other side of the screen and make them aware of what the pornography industry is about," Wheeler said.

Wheeler serves on the board of directors of Refuge for Women Chicago, a shelter and advocacy group that supports the recovery of women traumatized in human-trafficking rings. The group contends that there are 25,000 Chicago-area women affected every year.

Elected to represent the 64th Legislative District in the Illinois House and now serving her third and final term, Wheeler said her push against pornography stems from the story of a woman she met who worked in the porn industry.

That woman ended up in a Refuge for Women program in Kentucky.

"She was s survivor," Wheeler said. “Even though she’s been 10 years in recovery, she’s really struggling still."

Wheeler argued that there are consequences to viewing pornography.

“If you’re participating in some type of pornography, you could also be participating in the coercion and extortion of the victims of human trafficking," Wheeler said. "There’s a definite connection and link to human trafficking."

In 2017, there were 26,557 calls to law enforcement and 8,524 reported cases of human trafficking in the U.S., according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The resolution is the first step to passing a bill Wheeler stands behind: House Bill 5039. The proposed legislation seeks to put a porn filter on electronics sold in Illinois.

Wheeler said she has little hope the bill will ever make it out of the Rules Committee because of opposition.

"There’s already a standard that recognizes kids shouldn’t have access to this," Wheeler said, "but with one click of the button that says 'Yes, I’m 18,' they can see as much porn as they want.”

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