Backpage and Sex Trafficking

backpageThe Senate hasn’t held anyone in contempt of Congress in more than 20 years; that is until last week when the CEO of Backpage, Carl Ferror, refused to show up and explain how he works against fighting sex trafficking with the company.

“The day of reckoning has come. We’re gonna issue the subpoena. We’re gonna hold him in contempt, and we’re gonna make sure that he’s held accountable for, number one, not appearing, but also for giving us the information that we need to protect the children of our country,” said North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Backpage is an advertising website that has listed sexual services since its start in 2004.  They supposedly don’t allow underage sex ads and delete them, but it is clear from the dozens of news articles we have posted on our facebook page in which it is stated that victims were rescued and had been receiving clients through Backpage, that there are many underage girls still being sold through their site regularly.  Craigslist’s sexual service section was shut down in 2010, and those who had used their site switched over to Backpage.  Craigslist had $44 million in sex-related advertising.  It is unclear how much Backpage makes.

What is remarkable is that despite these alleged efforts in screening such ads, so many are accepted that are brutal against women. This article stated the following: “The text next to her photo reads, ‘Choke me. Spank me. Pull my hair. Do Whatever You Want…I don’t Care – 19.’  The young woman promises a time you will NEVER forget.'” With a title like that, you can only assume that someone is in control of this girl and is not treating her well and believes it is okay for clients to treat her just as poorly.  The article went on, “We meet ‘Violet’ in a neighborhood just outside St. Paul, Minnesota. The pretty blonde married young. Her high-spirited, 14-year-old daughter later ran away and was missing for three years. Prosecutors say the girl was prostituted by a man she met at a bus stop who gave her food and a couch to sleep on and then advertised her for sex on to ‘pay him back.'” Three teens have even sued Backpage because of what happened to them due to the advertisements.

Many people have concluded that although it is a terrible circumstance to see ads where teens are sold for sex on this website, many busts occur because of law agents responding to the ads in order to rescue these girls. There are those who believe that shutting the section of sexual services down would make it harder to find traffickers or missing teens who may be victims of human trafficking.  Many of these ads are put up because it is so easy to access.  There are positives and negatives to it being shut down.  The trafficker will find another site and the process will continue.  The more that these sites get shut down, perhaps the growth in sexual ads over the past few years will also die down.  Will it go further underground?  It is hard to say.  People who seek out sexual pleasure and constantly hear about sites being shut down may be less likely to want to search in the first place.  At the same time many have such deep sexual addictions that they will do anything they can to get what they want.  Something new and fresh might have to be implemented that can work to put fear in traffickers, help victims out more, and educate men through John programs.  New tactics are always being researched by traffickers.  Therefore new approaches to counter them will be most effective.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |


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