Kerry was inspired to write “Masha’s Law” after hearing the story of Masha Allen. Kerry and Masha unveiled the legislation together at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in January.
Now 13, Masha was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age five by a man who began sexually abusing her the night she arrived. He has since been found guilty of 11 counts of child sexual abuse, but Masha’s images - hundreds of them - are on the Internet and being downloaded around the world. In fact, half of all identified of child pornographers have downloaded pictures of Masha. Yet this courageous teenager tells her story to raise awareness so others are spared her unspeakable horror.
“It’s an absolute outrage that the penalty for downloading songs illegally off the Internet is three times the penalty for downloading disgusting images of children,” said John Kerry. “For thousands who have suffered abuse, the knowledge that such photographs are still out there is a nagging reminder of the horrors they have endured. For these despicable criminals, it is a financial incentive to shatter more lives by taking and selling more exploitative photos. The Senate recognized the urgent need for this law and came together to do everything we can to end the disgrace of child pornography.”
“Masha has shown courage beyond her years. As a father, I am grateful for her brave efforts to shine a light on the problem of child pornography,” Kerry added.
Masha’s Law will dramatically increase penalties for anyone who downloads child pornography off the Internet, raising the civil penalties from $50,000 to $150,000 – the equivalent of illegally downloading songs from the Internet. And, it will fix the law to allow victims ages 18 or older to recover damages from those who downloaded images of them taken while they were children.
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is a co-sponsor of the legislation.