News from overseas - Craigslist surrenders to legal challenge after child sex trafficking victims speak out
Trigger warning for survivors of sexual abuse
Craigslist, a popular online classifieds website, has surrendered to legal action over it’s adult services section, amid claims it facilitates prostitution and child sex trafficking. As reported in The Australian, the 'adult services' section has been removed and replaced with a black bar which says 'censored.'
The move comes after a group of US attorneys-general said there wasn't enough being done to stop illegal ads being posted on the site and recommended the 'adult services' section be removed altogether. The attorneys-general have welcomed the move and are now trying to ascertain whether this is a permanent policy change. Anti-trafficking activists, including victims of child sex trafficking had also campaigned for the change, as detailed in an article from The Washington Post.
The article, Sex trafficking opponents fight craigs list ‘adult services’ ads discusses young women known as ‘MC’ and 'AK' and their campaign to have the adult services section removed. MC was only 11 years old when a 28 year old man began selling her for sex through ads on Craigslist. MC was forced to post the ads on Craigslist herself during the day and answer them at night. She is now 17 years old. 'AK' was repeatedly sold to men at truck stops through ads posted on Craigslist.
What amazing and brave young women they are.
Through open letters published in newspaper advertisements, they have asked Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist to remove the ‘adult services’ section.
Friday morning, MC's "Dear Craig" plea appeared in a half-page ad in The Washington Post, along with the account of AK, who said she had been sold for sex by the hour at truck stops, 10 hours with 10 different men each night. Friday afternoon, a federal judge in South Carolina threw out a lawsuit in which Craigslist had tried to stop authorities from investigating whether it has a role in prostitution; and by Friday night, Connecticut's attorney general had called for Craigslist to shut down its "adult section" site completely. Earlier in the week, CNN aired video of a reporter ambushing Newmark, who was unable to muster a response when confronted with ads that depicted girls being offered for sex.
Andrea Powell, head of Fair Fund, a District-based group that works with girls and teens who have been sold for sex, calls Craigslist "the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking." She said most of the young people she works with are sold through the site, which has 20 billion page views a month. Her organization was one of the groups that paid for the Post ad and vouched for the women's stories; AK has met with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Powell said.
"They are aiding and abetting the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and for that reason, they should take it down," said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), whose Bay Area district includes Craiglist's headquarters. Speier has called for the firm to get out of the sex-ad business, as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) did Friday.
Read the full article here.
The rights of women and children must always come before the perceived entitlement to 'adult services.' It is encouraging to see that the attorneys-general in the US have recognised this and have pushed for this change. While this move alone will not stop child sex trafficking, it will make it harder for pimps to sell children and for sexual predators to find them. We must continue the fight to end sexploitation in all it's forms.
You can see the video of Amber Lyon from CNN confronting Craig Newmark here: