Say It’s A Haven For Sex Trafficking
Following the conviction of a New York man for sex trafficking and prostitution, including that of a minor through the classified backpage.com, Rep. Bob Turner is calling on his colleagues in the House to pass his resolution to pressure the site and its parent company, Village Voice Media, to eliminate its adult entertainment section, which has been linked to sex trafficking, prostitution and pornography involving young children.
“This site is a haven for those in clear violation of the law. What’s worse is that young boys and girls are being trafficked and forced into prostitution,” Turner said. “We cannot continue to allow this disgrace to go on in plain sight.”
Turner introduced the resolution (H.R. 646) on May 7 and held a press conference outside Village Voice Media on May 11 to bring attention to the numerous reported cases around the country of the site being used to facilitate sex trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography, among other heinous acts of child endangerment and abuse, all under the thin veil of Backpage’s adult entertainment section.
Currently pending in the House Judiciary Committee, the resolution details eight specific cases of people arrested for sex trafficking who used Backpage.com.
Aside from calling on Village Voice Media to immediately shut down the adult entertainment tab of the site, the resolution expresses support for law enforcement agency efforts to provide training to law enforcement agents on how to investigate and prosecute cases of sex trafficking. As well, it supports training on how to identify and rescue trafficking victims and informing these victims about trafficking victim services provided by the federal, state, and local governments and non-profit and faith-based organizations, including medical, legal, mental health, housing and other social services.
The resolution has garnered bipartisan support from representatives around the country highlighting the national implications of this site. Turner sees the resolution as a first step in highlighting the importance of bringing this site to an end.
“The adult entertainment section of backpage.com’s link to sex trafficking and prostitution is the worst kept secret in this dingy and illegal world. This is not a New York problem, this is a national problem. There have been cases of abduction, prostitution, and abuse all over the country and there is no more time to waste before we take action,” Turner said. “Many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have joined me in support of this resolution. I call on those yet to do so to join us in taking the first step to shut down a site which hosts a section that operates in a manner so blatantly subversive to the law and endangers the welfare of our children.”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world. The estimated average age of victims forced into prostitution for the first time is between 12 and 14 for females and 11 to 13 for males.
The National Association of Attorneys General has tracked more than 50 cases of trafficking or attempts to traffic minors on backpage.com. The site is also reported to be the leading website for prostitution advertising in the U.S.