Feds seize Backpage.com after amendments to sex trafficking law
Campaigners and survivors of sex trafficking celebrated last week after amendments to US federal law would hold websites facilitating sex trafficking accountable. In response to the legislation, various major websites including Craigslist and Reddit have implemented major changes- and now, federal law enforcement authorities are in the process of seizing Backpage.com and its affiliated websites.
The websites are being seized as part of an enforcement action by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service, according to a notice that appeared Friday afternoon on Backpage.com.
The notice didn’t characterize or provide any details on the nature of the enforcement action.
It said that authorities planned to release information about the enforcement action later Friday.
Backpage.com lets users create posts to sell items, seek roommates, participate in forums, list upcoming events or advertise job openings.
But Backpage.com also has listings for adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say that advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.
Sex trafficking websites shutting down in the wake of new legislation
Sex trafficking websites shutting down in the wake of new legislation
Campaigners and survivors of sex trafficking are celebrating what has been dubbed “the most important anti-trafficking legislation in a generation”.
According to the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation, despite investigations by the U.S. Congress, websites that facilitate sex trafficking have not been held to account. New amendments to the “outdated” law, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) would allow victims of sexual exploitation to pursue legal actions against these websites and aid prosecutors in bringing charges against them.
A still image from the 2017 documentary I am Jane Doe.
As reported in the Washington Post:
The legislation arose as Congress learned that its current anti-trafficking laws could not be applied to websites like Backpage, which host thousands of ads daily for female and male prostitutes, some of which are children being trafficked by adults. Backpage has successfully cited the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from liability for material posted by third parties, to evade both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.
Congress launched an investigation into Backpage which showed that its operators helped customers modify their ads to delete references to teenage prostitutes, yet still allowed the ads to run. The Washington Post then reported that Backpage used a company in the Philippines to solicit both prostitutes and johns from other websites, and created new ads for the prostitutes.
In response to the amendments, various major sites have implemented significant changes:
Cityvibe shut down completely, the Erotic Review, the “Yelp of the sex trade” where men rate their experiences with trafficking victims, shut down advertisement boards in the United States, NightShift shut down to review policies, VerifyHim shut down its “newsreel,” Craigslist personals section was shut down, Reddit’s prostitution-related “subreddits” were marked private and the site instituted new policies banning the sale of sex acts and drugs, Google reportedly deleted its publicly shared commercial sex-related advertising, WordPress.com reportedly removed its commercial sex-related advertising sites, Paypal reportedly disabled advertised accounts for commercial sex-related payment, Rubmaps, Erotic Monkey, and USA Sex Guide had extended maintenance periods over the weekend, suggesting upcoming changes due to the new law, Microsoft is issuing new Terms of Service effective May 1st covering all of its platforms, including Skype and Xbox, to urge users not to use the services to share pornography or criminal activity. Read more.
This is a massive victory for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation.
Watch the trailer for 2017 documentary I am Jane Doe
Backpage’s Sex Ads Are Gone. Child Trafficking? Hardly. New York Times
Naked women in Sports Illustrated isn't about giving them a voice
The #MeToo movement has taken the world by storm, exposing the endemic exploitation and abuse of women and girls by men across a range of industries. The social media campaign to hold predatory men accountable for their actions has sparked a global dialogue, forcing many to re-evaluate their sexist attitudes and practices.
In the wake of this cultural shift, Formula One has announced plans to end the long-standing traditional of ‘grid girls’, clearly recognising that the use of attractive women as props or accessories for men is “clearly at odds with modern day societal norms.”
The growing refusal to tolerate casual sexism poses a problem for companies who rely on it in order to function.
Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, a magazine serving up an array of sexy, young women in bikinis for the viewing pleasure of a male audience, is set to hit newsstands this week. This year’s edition will feature a nude spread entitled ‘In Her Own Words’, a collection of photos of naked women with words scrawled across their bodies that apparently represent who they are.
According to the magazine’s Instagram, the series of naked women in the men’s girlie mag is intended to celebrate “more than just their bodies”. Which begs the question, why are they posed naked? Surely if the aim is to humanise the women included rather than to sexualise them, stripping them off, laying them on the ground passively and photographing them naked isn’t the best way to achieve this?
The project is being pitched by magazine editor MJ Day as empowering, as a means of giving women a voice (just not clothes). Day tells Vanity Fair the shoot is about “allowing women to exist in the world without being harassed or judged regardless of how they like to present themselves.”
What we’re seeing is the same routine objectification of women, the treatment of women first and foremost as bodies to be looked at, as passive objects, but Day assures us this is different. This time it’s revolutionary, about women’s right to self-expression or to be objectified- while the magazine conveniently profits.
By framing the conversation as one about women’s choices, the spotlight is on the women posing, and not the magazine who orchestrated the shoot. Sports Illustrated can continue to operate the same way as always, profiting from exploiting women’s bodies and sexuality, but now they can call it ‘female empowerment’.
The female models are still sexualised, their naked bodies used as canvases and offered up for male consumption. How is this particular photoshoot different from the everyday sexualised depictions of women in mainstream media and popular culture, while their male counterparts remain fully clothed and posed with dignity and strength? Is anything being challenged at all? It’s the same old sexism, but repackaged as progressive and feminist.
The PR machine keeps spinning, with Day attempting to associate the brand, a bikini mag with naked women, with the #MeToo movement in a Vanity Fair article entitled ‘Meet the First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue of the #MeToo Era’.
The swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated is dominated by sexually objectifying portrayals of women, treating women as masturbatory material for men. In doing so, it contributes to and reinforces the second-class status of women, the notion that women exist for men, for their enjoyment and use, and that women’s value is determined by their physical appearance and sexual appeal- essentially, their ability to attract men. This frequent reduction of women to sexual objects is incompatible with gender equality.
Twenty years of empirical research, 135 studies from 109 publications, indicate that sexualisation and objectification of women has a range of negative effects. Consistent evidence found that:
"regular, everyday exposure to [sexually objectifying portrayals of women] are directly associated with a range of consequences, including higher levels of body dissatisfaction, greater self-objectification, greater support of sexist beliefs and of adversarial sexual beliefs, and greater tolerance of sexual violence toward women. Moreover, experimental exposure to this content leads both women and men to have a diminished view of women's competence, morality, and humanity."
The treatment of women as sexual objects and the diminishing of women’s humanity cannot work alongside a social movement fighting for women’s human rights. The sexual objectification of women for profit is in direct contradiction with efforts to eradicate the exploitation of women. Treating women as sex objects doesn’t suddenly become a feminist act just because the photographer is a woman.
When corporates, whose primary goal is to sell a product, attempt to capitalise on a social movement or cause, we should absolutely be wary of their motives.
We all know that hot, naked women in Sports Illustrated isn’t about celebrating women or giving them a voice- it’s about selling magazines.
“These are sexy photos…at the end of the day, we’re always going to be sexy, no matter what is happening,” says Day.
See article, originally printed in Sydney Morning Herald here.
Campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable
A 22 year old man who was caught with child pornography involving babies, coerced a teenage girl into sending him nude photos before publically humiliating her by posting them to Instagram. At the age of just 20, Alastair Wayne Anning was found with about 10,000 photos and videos of child exploitation which he downloaded using an app he thought was untraceable. Judge Devereaux sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended after three months.
A Mackay man caught with more than 1000 “disturbing” child pornography images and videos secretly filmed his 15 year old stepdaughter showering with a friend and using the toilet. Judge Dick handed down an 18 month sentence but the man will serve just 5 months in prison before that term is suspended for 2 years.
A paramedic has been charged with possession of “disturbing, repulsive” child pornography images and movies. Police located 13 movies in total and 4426 images – the majority classified as one of the most grossly offensive type of child exploitation material including acts of penetration and sadism. Judge Burnett ordered Parsons to a sentence of 15 months jail, suspended after 2 months.
These are just a few examples of people charged with possession of child exploitation material in the last month. The sentences are very similar, and lenient, across the board.
In early 2017, Collective Shout launched a campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable for their actions. This accountability also needs to be directed towards internet service providers and their obligation to better monitor what their users are accessing.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to write a submission for the inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017. In our submission we agreed wholeheartedly that sentences for accessing child exploitation material needed to be increased. The above examples give you a general cross section of the types of sentences being handed down.
In addition to harsher sentencing, we also called on government to introduce legislation to increase liability for carriers (internet service providers) to more closely monitor and report on people accessing child exploitation material. Some fantastic recommendations came out of the inquiry, including increasing penalties for ISP’s for failing to pass on information, having a more formal reporting process, and allowing the Australian Federal Police to access service users personal details. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws surrounding service provider/service user relationships, ISP’s are not obligated to pass on client information.
The amendments to the Crimes Legislation Bill have already been debated twice in Parliament in 2017 and are scheduled to be debated again early 2018. At this stage, there has been no debate about the responsibilities of ISP’s, just debate around increasing sentencing penalties.
The United Kingdom has introduced “opt in” rules for people wishing to access the internet. If a service user wants to access 18+ content, they have to let their ISP know and provide their credit card details and proof of age. This allows police and ISP’s to better track people who are accessing child exploitation material. In Australia, you have to “opt out” of seeing this content or use internet filters. The UK model is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction to continue to crack down on people accessing and sharing child exploitation material.
Collective Shout will continue to lobby MP’s and work with other organisations to make sure ISP’s obligations are at the forefront of any bill amendments. Thank you so much for your support during 2017! We could not have achieved what we have without your help.
Australian Modern Slavery Act must tackle sexual exploitation
Sexual exploitation of girls and women is the most common form of trafficking worldwide.
Back in April, Collective Shout made a submission to the federal inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. Following the UK Parliament’s establishment of a Modern Slavery Act in 2015, a Joint Standing Committee was tasked with investigating whether Australia could adopt a comparable Act.
Photo: 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report USRead more
Another sexploitation event: Women treated as objects of sexual recreation at Adelaide Victory venue
[*Update: FFSA have replied. Their response is posted at the bottom of the article.]
A few weeks ago we wrote an article on SBS about a local South Australian soccer club hosting a men's night complete with strippers down at the club. The event sparked a lot of discussion on our Facebook page and in response we wrote this piece highlighting some of the main issues with a men's sporting club participating in the purchase of sexual services.
Only a matter of weeks later, we have learned about yet another South Australian club venue hosting a similar event - and they may have gotten away with it if the so-called 'Adult Entertainment' agency had not posted a photo from the night on Instagram, complete with the club's logo in the background.Read more
AUSTRALIAN MEN TAKE THE PLEDGE AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
AUSTRALIAN MEN TAKE THE PLEDGE AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
- PROSTITUTION - I DON'T BUY IT -
Join men from across Australia who are coming together to take a stand against sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children worldwide.
Stand for the promotion of human dignity and the prevention of the commodification of women and children through prostitution.
Sign the Nordic Model Australia Coalition (NorMAC) pledge - Prostitution - I Don't Buy It.
In Ireland earlier this year, Tom Meagher, husband to murdered journalist Jill Meagher who was murdered in Melbourne in 2012, spoke at a similar Irish campaign launch.
Jill Meagher’s killer, Adrian Bayley, had a long history of raping and abusing prostitutes.
Adrian Bayley is on public record as stating that he had a ‘right’ to rape prostitutes, because he ‘paid for it’.
At Ireland’s campaign launch Tom Meagher spoke about men's role in prostitution –
‘This dehumanisation [of women] comes from knowing that what they are doing is not right. If you pay for sex, the money is not buying consent, it is paying for the temporary suspension of the woman’s right not to consent’.
Mr Meagher spoke of the lies of ‘consensual transactions’ and the ‘pernicious lie of the male libido being beyond the control of the man who owns that libido. That feeds into a lie that we can’t help ourselves’.
He said there was a ‘need to end the lie that this is about sexual liberation. It isn’t, it is about sexual exploitation. The circumstances are usually coercive, but even if they are not, the buyer has no way of knowing.
Ultimately, the only person making the choice is the buyer and the choices we make absolutely matter’.
In signing the NorMAC pledge - Prostitution - I Don't Buy It - men commit to:
Understanding that the commodification of women's bodies for sexual purposes is harmful and undermines women's human rights, dignity and gender equality.
Actively raising public awareness with other men the myths surrounding prostitution and sexual exploitation and trafficking, especially in Australia.
Assisting the curb for the demand for sexual services by supporting the introduction in Australia of Nordic model laws on prostitution, in recognition of the urgent need to provide peace and security for all women.
I agree to make the above pledge for the Prostitution - I Don't Buy It campaign
I agree to have my name listed on the pledge webpage at normac.org.au
Please forward your signature and contact details to [email protected].
Collective Shout stands with sex trade survivors in open letter to Amnesty International
Amnesty International turns its back on prostitution survivors, sides with pimps
Amnesty International has long been known as a global movement working to defend and protect human rights, to speak against exploitation and abuse, and to stand up for some of the most vulnerable and oppressed people in the world.
This is why their prostitution policy to legalise pimping and purchasing women for commercial sexual exploitation has attracted an outcry from advocates, human rights organisations, activists and survivors of prostitution and trafficking throughout the world.
Rather than standing up for women exploited in the global sex trade, Amnesty is on the side of sex trade profiteers, voting to legalise pimping, brothel keeping and sex buying on the basis that it access to women's bodies for sex is a "universal right" that should be free from state interference. In short, men's "right" to buy and sell women is being prioritised above women's rights to live free from abuse, violence, exploitation and rape. What was Amnesty thinking?
UK pimp takes credit for Amnesty's prostitution policy after infiltrating the movement
Collective Shout has joined with over 400 advocates, human rights orgs and survivors of prostitution and trafficking, in an open letter calling for Amnesty to vote no on their plans to legalise pimping, brothel keeping and sex buying. Other notable signatories on the letter include Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Carey Mulligan, Emma Thompson, Emily Blunt, Angela Bassett, Kevin Kline, Lisa Kudrow and many more.
You can add your name to the open letter.
Email your local Amnesty branch, urging them to vote NO to decriminalising pimps and johns. (Find your branch here.)
Contact @Amnesty on Twitter using the hashtags #NoAmnesty4Pimps and #QuestionsForAmnesty. You can follow @NoAmnesty4Pimps here and retweet them too.
Like 'No Amnesty 4 Pimps' on Facebook for continued updates.
How men who buy sex regard women, in their own words
Men who buy women and children for sex often regard them as less than human. We know this because the men themselves openly say so both in research and on customer review websites where men detail and rank the ‘services’ of the women they buy. These websites showcase the contempt these men have for the women they exploit.
We’ve collected a small sample of quotes from men who buy women. Several main themes emerge.
Regarding the women they buy as mere objects of sexual gratification and less than human
“Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee- once you’re done with it, you throw it out.” Source
“I have an easier time treating them worse.” Source
“For gods sake woman…I just want you to get naked and suck my cock!...If you like big tits, she is your girl. Too much like hard work for me.” Source
“Some of the girls are lovely but most are just holes to f*ck.” Source
“She’s a sad waste of good girl flesh.” Source
“If you want an attractive receptacle for your semen she will do.” Source
“LOL what beautiful girls OMG! WTF are you talking about dogg??? They are all old as fuck and the only young ones are ugly junkies lol rather fuck a blow up doll lol” SourceRead more