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When Backpage com Promotes Teenage Girls for Sexual Transactions

Asia Graves was a 16-year-old high school sophomore living in Boston when she was sold on the internet "like a pizza," as she describes the experience. She was then sent to different guys on a daily basis to be raped by them. She was one of hundreds of other young women who were sold via what can best be described as an internet brothel that goes by the name Backpage com. It has a dominant position in the internet sex trade and is suspected in almost three-quarters of the cases of child trafficking that have been reported in the United States. However, this week presents an opportunity to rejoice. Backpage was forced to shut its "adult" advertising area on Monday due to political and legal pressure. This part was used to sell women and children for the purpose of sex. A long-overdue attempt is also being made to bring the company's leaders accountable for their actions, both criminally and civilly. Graves, who ultimately managed to get away from her pimp despite the fact that he broke her jaw by stomping on her and gouging her face with a potato peeler, remarks that "there has been a lot of development." This past week, she was cheering on the Senate subcommittee that was holding hearings on Backpage and discussing the possibility of strengthening the legislation on websites similar to . Since the 1990s, I've been writing about sex trafficking for the simple reason that, at its worst, it's a relic of the slave trade. There is also a great deal of hypocrisy around this subject. We have condemned the Catholic Church and Penn State for their complicity in the sexual abuse of children, but we have ignored websites like back pages that engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. That is something that has been gradually shifting. Backpage's revenue model was severely damaged when credit card providers stopped processing payments for advertisements placed on the website. In December, Kamala Harris, who had been serving as California's attorney general at the time but is now the state's newest senator, brought criminal charges against officials at Backpage. Their arraignment is planned later this month. Backpage is now the target of ongoing civil litigation in the state of Washington. The movie "I Am Jane Doe," which is about human trafficking and will be shown in cinemas the following month, highlights the website Backpage as "the Walmart of human trafficking."

According to one document found on Backpage

Most importantly, a Senate subcommittee led by Republican Rob Portman and Democratic Claire McCaskill has done outstanding work investigating Backpage and showing how it achieved a valuation of more than 500 million dollars in collaboration with those that deal in human beings. Portman and McCaskill are co-chairs of the subcommittee. A terrible new report from a subcommittee demonstrates that the corporation deletes signs that a girl is underage in order to shield pimps from the irresponsibility of their clients. For instance, if a pimp attempts to publish an ad for a "Lolita," "small girl," "school girl," or "amber alert," such phrases are instantly removed from the ad; yet, the ad is still placed, and the girl will still be sold for the purpose of sexual exploitation. According to one document found on Backpage, more than 70 percent of the advertisements seen in the adult sector had been altered in this manner by the year 2010, indicating that the corporation was far more engaged in the manipulation of material than it ever let on. It's true that some of the individuals who sell sex are adults trying to fend for themselves and gain money, but that doesn't bother me in the least. If Backpage thoroughly checked people's names and ages, I wouldn't have a problem with it. However, the requirements for selling a dog on Backpage are far more strict than those for selling a child. Because the tales continue to occupy my thoughts, I've written several times throughout the years about Backpage. My very first article for Back page was about a young lady who was 13 years old and whose nickname was Baby Face. She was in pain, bleeding, and unable to endure another rape, but her pimp sold her on Backpage nevertheless despite the fact that he had kicked her down a stairway for attempting to run. He escorted her to an apartment complex and waited outside after informing her of the location of the unit she needed to see. Baby Face, who was terrified and frantic, tried to enter another apartment by banging on the door of another flat. Baby Face asked the startled lady who opened the door for a phone and then immediately dialed both her mother's number and the emergency number. backpages, like it usually has, made a profit off of the transaction, despite the fact that the prostitute in question was sent to jail. To be clear, the problem of people trafficking is a multifaceted one. If Backpage were to go out of business, it is possible that other websites would step in to fill the hole it would leave. In fact, when Backpage deleted its adult area, advertisements for sex migrated instantly to the dating portion of the website. We need the Communications Decency Act to be amended by Congress so that it is clear that businesses like Backpage do not qualify for any protections when they allow traffickers to sell children via their websites. There is growing support from members of both parties for the passage of such an amendment, and I have high hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will also demonstrate leadership on this issue. We also need local police agencies and prosecutors to go after johns and pimps rather than sometimes focusing their attention on the youngsters who are the victims of these crimes. One mother named Nacole (who did not want her full name to be published in order to preserve the privacy of her family) related to me how her daughter, who was 15 years old at the time, was sold on Backpage for more than three months. During the hearing before the Senate, she posed the question, "How could such a horrible, morally bankrupt business model find success in the United States?" She said that her daughter had been featured on the website as a 'Weekend Special' advertisement. It is too late to safeguard that girl, who is still fighting to get well after having received treatment. However, when children are sold for sex online as weekend specials, the people who should feel guilty are not the children themselves. We should all be doing it.

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