Response to Kristof's article
What a total outrage that the Village Voice – yes, the Village Voice! – is enabling human trafficking! Read Nick Kristof's op ed in yesterday's NYT below (followed by the one he wrote on the same topic in January).
After Alissa testified against her pimps, six of them went to prison for up to 25 years. Yet these days, she reserves her greatest anger not at pimps but at companies that enable them. She is particularly scathing about Backpage.com, a classified advertising Web site that is used to sell auto parts, furniture, boats — and girls. Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage.
"You can't buy a child at Wal-Mart, can you?" she asked me. "No, but you can go to Backpage and buy me on Backpage."
Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of prostitution advertising among five Web sites that carry such ads in the United States, earning more than $22 million annually from prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a media research and consulting company. It is now the premier Web site for human trafficking in the United States, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. And it's not a fly-by-night operation. Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns the estimable Village Voice newspaper.
Attorneys general from 48 states have written a joint letter to Village Voice Media, pleading with it to get out of the flesh trade. An online petition at Change.org has gathered 94,000 signatures asking Village Voice Media to stop taking prostitution advertising. Instead, the company has used The Village Voice to mock its critics. Alissa thought about using her real name for this article but decided not to for fear that Village Voice would retaliate.
Court records and public officials back Alissa's account, and there is plenty of evidence that under-age girls are marketed on Backpage. Arrests in such cases have been reported in at least 22 states.
…the Brooklyn district attorney's office says that the great majority of the sex trafficking cases it prosecutes involve girls marketed on Backpage.
…There are no simple solutions to end sex trafficking, but it would help to have public pressure on Village Voice Media to stop carrying prostitution advertising. The Film Forum has already announced that it will stop buying ads in The Village Voice. About 100 advertisers have dropped Rush Limbaugh's radio show because of his demeaning remarks about women. Isn't it infinitely more insulting to provide a forum for the sale of women and girls?
Let's be honest: Backpage's exit from prostitution advertising wouldn't solve the problem, for smaller Web sites would take on some of the ads. But it would be a setback for pimps to lose a major online marketplace. When Craigslist stopped taking such ads in 2010, many did not migrate to new sites: online prostitution advertising plummeted by more than 50 percent, according to AIM Group.
If you're as outraged as I am, you can do four things:
1) Spread the word by forwarding this email or link to it – I've posted it at: http://edreform.blogspot.com/2012/03/where-pimps-peddle-their-goods.html
2) Sign the online petition at: www.change.org/petitions/tell-village-voice-media-to-stop-child-sex-trafficking-on-backpagecom
3) Donate to FAIR Girls, the group that it working with Alissa and other girls like her, at:www.fairgirls.org/donate (I just donated $250)
4) Call or email your Senators and Representative in Congress and urge them to support the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S.1301) (you can get contact info for all of the state and federal politicians who represent you at: www.congress.org)
January 25, 2012
How Pimps Use the Web to Sell Girls
Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods
Once, pimps routinely advertised Alissa on Backpage.com. She escaped, and now she is a college senior.
Published: March 17, 2012
I WENT on a walk in Manhattan the other day with a young woman who once had to work these streets, hired out by eight pimps while she was just 16 and 17. She pointed out a McDonald's where pimps sit while monitoring the girls outside, and a building where she had repeatedly been ordered online as if she were a pizza.