Today, Melissa and her Progressive Caucus colleague, Brad Lander (Brooklyn) introduced a City Council resolution calling on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of its online classified site, Backpage.com, because it serves as a platform for sex trafficking.
In September 2010, Craigslist banned sexual advertising because it facilitated trafficking minors for sex. Unfortunately, much of the $44 million in sex-related advertising merely shifted to Backpage.com, a site owned by the Village Voice. Law enforcement agencies in New York and around the country have arrested pimps who used Backpage.com for trafficking teenage girls. The Brooklyn District Attorney has prosecuted 32 sex trafficking cases in the past year and a half, the vast majority of which involved girls who were marketed through Backpage.com.
Melissa commented on the proposed legislation:
Village Voice Media must ensure that children and teenagers are not being abused in the commercial sex industry with help from their website. This resolution sends the message that we will not stand silent while this company profits from exploitation. It is time for Village Voice Media to follow Craiglists’s lead and stop accepting adult advertising.
Regardless of whether there is coercion, fraud, or force involved, any commercial sex act performed by a person under 18 is considered human trafficking and is illegal. It’s time for the Village Voice to protect children and teens and stop permitting human trafficking on their website.