04 May, 2010

CraigsList and Trafficking

CraigsList gets money from their adult services page - A LOT OF MONEY - $36.3 million this year alone (NYT). Adult service ads are "the #1 facilitator of illegal prostitution and human trafficking in the country."

So what does CL do with all that money from its sex ads? Some of it goes back to organizations that are fighting human trafficking.

You can't make this stuff up.

Change.org wrote about this insane practice. The NYT did too.

My favorite line: I'm sorry, but this has to be the most ass-backwards way of addressing a serious criminal and social problem that I've ever heard of. It's like a tobacco company funding a youth smoking prevention initiative... (Alyssa Miller)

First, some background: In late 2008, under pressure from 40 state attorneys general, the company, based in San Francisco, agreed to start charging for what was then called "erotic services ads," and to donate that money to charity. In mid-2009, it shifted course, changing the name of the forum to "adult services," raising fees for initial posts to $10, from $5, for a new ad, and stating that it would no longer commit to giving that money away. ... Craigslist's adult services category was one of the foremost venues for human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in the United States. (NYT)

And what do NGOs combating human trafficking this about this?

"As a nonprofit service provider who is continually in dire need of funding – and please quote me on that – I would not accept money from Craigslist," said Rachel Lloyd, executive director of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, which provides services to sexually exploited and trafficked women. "That money has come from pimps and traffickers who have sold many of the girls who will then walk into my door." (NYT)

CraigsList's Response:

"Of the thousands of U.S. venues that carry adult service ads, including ones operated by some of our largest and best known companies, Craigslist has done the best and most responsible job of combating child exploitation and human trafficking," he wrote. (NYT)

Sorry, I have to stop laughing before we can go on. Seriously? You think you have done the most responsible job at combating child exploitation?

My Response? I'll let Alyssa speak:

But isn't there a better, more direct way to solve these problems? Like preventing the harm to begin with, instead of desperately throwing money around to try and correct it once it is too late? ... The trauma of being raped night after night, by a long line of men doesn't go away so easily. The feeling of worthlessness that comes when someone else tells you they own you, that's hard to shake. No amount of treatment, counseling, or care funded by Craiglist will ever give these children back what was stolen from them — a childhood. And Craigslist is just as much a part of that theft as the getaway car driver in the bank robbery or the lookout for a purse snatching. They make it the crime of child sexual exploitation easy, cheap, profitable, and possible.