The U.S. House approved a ban Wednesday on the importation and trafficking of anatomically correct child sex dolls and robots that “normalize sex between adults and minors.”
The proposal was approved in the House by a voice vote and now moves to the Senate.
“These dolls can be programmed to simulate rape. The very thought makes me nauseous,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.
Child sex dolls are one niche of a nascent robotic sex industry that has generated debate about the ethics of the use of lifelike machines for sexual activity. It is a subject that turns from squeamish to outright revulsion for many when it touches on child sex dolls and robots.
“Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child. My bill takes necessary steps to stop these sickening dolls from reaching our communities,” said Rep. Dan Donovan, a New York Republican who sponsored the legislation.
The child sex dolls are imported from China, Hong Kong, and Japan, often labeled as mannequins or models to avoid seizure by authorities. No current U.S. law specifically bans the importation and sale of the sex dolls.
Sex robots are increasingly lifelike, composed of silicon flesh-like material, some with basic artificial intelligence that allow conversations based on moods.
The bill is called the CREEPER Act, which stands for Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots Act.”
The proposal says the obscene dolls and robots “are customizable or morphable and can resemble actual children. … The dolls and robots normalize submissiveness and normalize sex between adults and minors.”
Goodlatte said he was “distraught” that the problem of child sex dolls 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 said.
“Customers can order bespoke dolls, providing pictures of specific children they would like the doll to resemble. They can indicate a preferred facial expression such as sadness or fear,” he said.
A change.org petition in support of the CREEPER Act has received more than 166,700 signatures.
The rate of child sexual abuse in the United States is difficult to determine because it often goes unreported. The Department of Health and Human Services has found nearly 3 million cases referred to agencies for investigation of child abuse annually, and believe that more than 8 percent involved sexual abuse.
A smattering of social scientists say the child sex dolls may reduce pedophilia but Goodlatte said there is no scientific literature to support that view.
“To the contrary, these dolls create a real risk of reinforcing pedophilic behavior and they desensitize the user causing him to engage in sicker and sicker behavior,” Goodlatte said.
Attendees at CES, the huge annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in January, flocked to a show with robot pole dancers.
Newer adult sex robots, some manufactured in the United States, have detailed facial expressions and allow limited conversations. One prototype sex robot, Roxxxy by True Companion, has programmable personalities, such as “Wild Wendy,” “Mature Martha,” and “Frigid Farrah.”
In an article in the Journal of Internet Law in December, two researchers described “Frigid Farrah” as the most disconcerting because it has a setting in which the doll rejects all advances and encourages the user to rape it.