Human Sex Trafficking: A Safe Haven Online

Back in February I penned a blog about human sex trafficking, a hidden crime that is affecting our local communities and countries at large, an ugly part of our world, that is now a multi-billion dollar industry and growing exponentially. My blog garnered a lot of hits and the response gave me the sense that the general public is very concerned about this crime. I mention this because I was saddened and shocked to hear that Craigslist is again in the news, cited as being a "haven for prostitution and sex trafficking."

Craigslist recently came under fire when a human rights group called the Rebecca Project, took out an ad in the form of a letter in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. The letter gave explicit details of two women who called themselves survivors of "Craigslist sex trafficking." They are publicizing the plight of victims and asking the site to take down the Adult Services section. Craigslist responded to the controversy on their blog, and it left many with more anger and pointed questions.

Craigslist maintains that they are working with law enforcement and called the situation "an outrageous misuse of our site." But what's got advocates up in arms is the sheer amount of sex ads on the site in the adult services section, which blatantly show prices and photos of girls and women. The website is being accused of not doing enough to stop sex trafficking on the Internet. Though Craigslist showed minimal concern for the issue and the victims, they were also quoted as saying "criminal misuse of the site was rare."

The two victims in the Rebecca Project letter, identified only as AC and MK, were forced into prostitution and exploited by men via Craigslist. MC says the forced rapes started when she was just 11, while MK met a man pretending to be her boyfriend only to be victimized and sold into prostitution (she was even put in a trunk of a car). These women say Craigslist is the website of choice for those looking to buy sex because of how well known it is, and because there is no fear of being caught on the website.

While Craigslist continues to make statements defending their website, and they claim to be manually approving each ad, they are clearly not doing enough to stop human sex trafficking and prostitution. One only has to surf the Adult Services section in any given city to find these types of ads. My heart goes out to the many silent victims, especially teens and young women, being bought and sold online.

I applaud FAIR Fund, a non profit dedicated to preventing human sex trafficking, who paid for the letter to be published, and the organizations that are working to get more awareness and preventative action into the public arena. Adult Services shouldn't include human sex trafficking and child prostitution.

You can make your voice heard by writing Craigslist and supporting the advocacy groups that are working to stop human trafficking in your community. This isn't the first time Craigslist has come under fire, it is my hope that with enough public outcry and attention, together we can put an end to sexual slavery.

Children's Rights, Human Trafficking, internet, Women's Rights