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Posts Tagged ‘Sex trafficking’

Alicia Keys, Rosanne Cash, R.E.M., and More Join Fight Against Backpage.com

The controversial adult services section of the classified ad site Backpage.com gained more high-profile critics this week. A number of musicians, including Alicia Keys, Rosanne Cash, Talib Kweli and members of the bands Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and The Roots have signed a petition against the adult ads, on the grounds that they are used by human traffickers to sell women and children sex slaves.

Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media, publishers of 13 alternative weeklies including the LA Weekly. The corporation has run articles in all 13 papers to downplay the frequency of child sex trafficking and attack critics, most famously Ashton Kutcher.

But this week the VVM papers have been uncharacteristically silent on the issue, despite both their new celebrity critics and a segment on Tuesday’s Nightline about the controversy. Is it possible the company has finally decided to stop compromising their journalistic integrity by using editorial pages to promote a corporate agenda? Let’s hope so.

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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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Radio Story on Child Sex Trafficking Gives Voice to Victims

Oakland, CA is considered by the FBI to be a hot spot for child prostitution. Today NPR’s All Things Considered and independent producer Youth Radio aired the first of a two part series about child sex trafficking in the area. The series is especially notable because it tells the stories of victims of trafficking – something the mainstream media has largely failed to do. In news reports the children involved are often represented largely by numbers and statistics, and referred to as “underage prostitutes” rather than victims of sexual abuse.

The first chapter of Trafficked relays the stories of Darlene and Brittney (not their real names), two teenage girls who were forced into prostitution at the age of 15. Darlene says to understand the problem of child sex trafficking, you have to understand the girls:

You honestly have to believe that they are more than a girl on the corner. They’re somebody’s daughter, somebody’s niece. They’re being sold out there. Some people are standing on the corner selling fruit. While other people are standing on the same corner selling a girl.

Listen to the part one here. Part two of the series will be about the efforts of local police and the FBI to combat sex trafficking, and will air tomorrow on All Things Considered.