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Posts Tagged ‘backpage.com’

New TV Ad by Anti-Sex Trafficking Activists Calls For Closure of Backpage.com Sex Ads

Village Voice Media, the parent company of LA Weekly, continues to be targeted by activists fighting against child sex trafficking. The source of the controversy is the adult services ads on the VVM-owned classified advertising website Backpage.com. Despite numerous documented cases of pimps using the site to sell sex with trafficked women and children, VVM has resisted calls to shut down the highly profitable section.

With the advertisement below, sponsored by social service organization FAIR Girls, activists hope to increase public pressure on VVM to remove prostitution ads from Backpage.com. The ad, which will first air this Sunday on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, encourages viewers to visit the FAIR Girls website, where they can sign a petition urging VVM to shut down the adult services section on Backpage.com.

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Group Plans Protest of The Village Voice

Village Voice Media, which operates Backpage.com, is coming under more fire for maintaining an adult section that allegedly has been used by people to buy and sell minors for sex. A group led by Groundswell, a social action service of the Auburn Seminary, is planning a protest in front of the Voice’s building tomorrow morning at 11 am.

During the protest, a Change.org petition (currently packed with over 220,000 signatures) that calls on the Voice to stop publishing ads on Backpage.com that might lead to child sex trafficking will be delivered.

The cause has been trumpeted by The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in a pair of columns. In addition to Kristof, 19 Senators have already asked the Voice to shutter the adult services section of Backpage.com.

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Former Underage Prostitute Sold on Backpage.com: ‘Like Going Back to Slave Times’

The classified advertising website Backpage.com makes approximately $22 million a year from escort ads, and a portion of those ads are selling victims of human trafficking. Nicholas Kristof gave a voice to one of those victims in an op-ed for the New York Times, where he once again made the case for the website’s closure.

As a minor, ‘Alissa’ was trafficked by pimps on Backpage.com. Alissa was her street name; she told Kristof she didn’t want to use her real name for fear Village Voice Media, the owner of Backpage.com, would retaliate. And VVM has in the past used the editorial pages of their newspapers, including the LA Weekly, to mock critics.

Kristof acknowledges that sex trafficking is a complicated issue, that many of the prostitution ads on Backpage.com are placed by adult women of their own volition, and that simply closing down the site won’t make sex slavery go away. And sex workers have come forward to argue that closing Backpage.com would make prostitution more dangerous, not less.

But to a victim like Alissa, providing any forum for trafficking is unacceptable. “For a Web site like Backpage to make $22 million off our backs, it’s like going back to slave times.” she told Kristoff.

(Photo: Ashley Gilbertson/VII / The New York Times)

Village Voice Article on Underage Sex Trafficking Victim Includes Self-Serving Disclaimer

A 15-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped, and forced into prostitution by a group of New York pimps who advertised her services on Backpage.com, the classified ad site owned by Village Voice Media. It’s these kind of crimes that have critics calling for the closure of Backpage.com and VVM defending their profitable website by claiming underage sex trafficking is a rare phenomenon.

Even when reporting on the horrific crimes committed against the victim, the Village Voice promoted its own agenda via a strange disclaimer:

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Son of Village Voice Founder Criticizes Company for Ads that Have Been Used for Sex Trafficking

John Mailer, son of writer and Village Voice co-founder Norman Mailer, has joined the campaign on Change.org calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of  its Backpage.com classifieds site where individuals have advertised children and teens for sex.

According to the petition, started by Groundswell, a “multifaith social action initiative”:

A Georgia man was arrested for pimping two 17-year-old girls around the Nashville area. Detectives responded to a suspicious ad on Backpage.com and drove to a motel. There, they found the teens and their 37-year-old pimp, as well as a laptop computer, likely used for the online advertising. Just four days prior to that, four people in Denver were arrested for forcing a teen girl into prostitution. They also advertised her sexual services, including semi-nude pictures, on Backpage. And last year, a South Dakota couple was arrested for selling underage girls for sex on …. wait for it … Backpage.com yet again.

Here’s what Mailer, just one of the petition’s 80,000 supporters, had to say:

The Village Voice was born out of the desire for an independent media voice for the people, a voice that had the freedom and authority to hold those who abuse power accountable for their actions. While I understand firsthand the financial difficulties facing all print publications today, the fact of the matter is that Village Voice is making money from selling advertisements that others have used to buy and sell minors for sex.”

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Son of Village Voice Founder Condemns Company for Aiding Child Sex Traffickers

John Buffalo Mailer, son of Norman Mailer, who co-founded the Village Voice in 1955, has joined the campaign calling for Village Voice Media to shutter its adult ad section because it can, and has, served as a tool for child sex trafficking. He writes:

While I understand firsthand the financial difficulties facing all print publications today, the fact of the matter is that Village Voice is making money from selling advertisements that others have used to buy and sell minors for sex.

Unfortunately, like those on both sides of this battle, the junior Mailer ignores the fact that adult women are sex trafficked too, making us wonder if anyone cares about sex slaves once they turn 18.

Read John Buffalo Mailer’s full statement after the jump.
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