Lawmakers: Ban Child Sex Robots, Which 'Normalizes Sex Between Adults and Minors'

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The hands of sex dolls. Lawmakers are moving to ban child sex dolls. Jason Lee/REUTERS

Lawmakers are moving to ban child sex dolls, which they say "normalizes sex between adults and minors."

A ban on child sex robots passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and will move on to the Senate. The dolls, which are designed to look like real children, have stirred much debate about the ethics of the use of lifelike machines to simulate sex. Some experts warn these dolls could reinforce thoughts of pedophilia.

"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. Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it's a small step to move on to a child," said Rep. Dan Donovan, a New York Republican who sponsored the legislation said in a statement.

The unfinished feet for an inflatable sex doll. A ban on child sex robots passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. Jason Lee/REUTERS

Often imported from Japan and China, when the dolls enter the United States they are routinely labeled as mannequins to avoid detection in the mail. Lawmakers say recent seizures of these dolls in the United Kingdom, the United States and other global markets have highlighted the need for this new law. There is currently no legislation in the United States to prevent the sale and distribution of child sex dolls. Other countries, like the United Kingdom have already taken steps to crack down on the importation of these lifelike machines. Last year, border patrol in the United Kingdom saw a surge in these dolls entering the country, which led investigators to identify a number of previously unknown pedophiles, the Guardian reported at the time.

"These items were going to individuals, in many cases, who were committing other offences in relation to [the] harm of children," Dan Scully, the deputy director for intelligence operations at the United Kingdom border patrol, said to the Guardian.

The dolls are designed to be as lifelike as possible. They regularly include accessories, like false eyelashes, and wigs. The robots also can have settings that simulate the real emotions of a child, with lifelike facial expressions, like sadness and fear.

"These dolls can be programmed to simulate rape. The very thought makes me nauseous," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican said on the U.S. House floor.

Some people say that these sex machines can be used to curb pedophilia, but there is no scientific evidence to support this view.

While there is little research into child sex dolls specifically, a report that came out earlier this month in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health found that there is no evidence that having sex with a robot or a doll is healthy or beneficial in any way.

A researcher at John Hopkins School of Medicine, Peter Fagan told The Atlantic that contact with child sex dolls could cause pedophilic thoughts to be acted upon with more urgency.

"These dolls create a real risk of reinforcing pedophilic behavior and desensitize the user causing him to engage in sicker and sicker behavior. They put our children in danger and we must not tolerate them," Goodlatte said.