The same feature that has made Craigslist so popular - namely, unlimited free advertising - has brought the decade-old website under heavy criticism for providing unmonitored forums for prostitution in its 570 city hubs. After several state representatives met with Craigslist attorneys Wednesday, the site agreed to remove its "erotic services" section and replace it with an "adult services" section, in which posts will cost $5-10 and be manually reviewed by staff before going up.
While adding oversight to the free-for-all forum is an improvement, it's simply not enough - especially for stopping the sexual exploitation of children. Kaffie McCullough, who for eight years has led a statewide campaign to stop the prostitution of children in Georgia, is one skeptic. Her initiative, the Atlanta-based A Future. Not a Past. program, a wing of the Juvenile Justice Fund, released a study just this week on Craigslist and child prostitution. It showed that out of the 334 known adolescent girls in Georgia's sex trade, about 53 percent are advertised through Craigslist's erotic services section - what McCullough calls the "ground zero for pimps to profit from children." Further, the number of girls being pimped on Craigslist rose dramatically from November 2008 (100 girls) to February 2009 (176).
McCullough spoke recently with blog editor Katelyn Beaty about Craigslist's decision.
What was your response to yesterday's announcement? I'm grateful that Craigslist is trying to monitor what's happening, because their erotic services [section] was clearly a place where young girls were being prostituted. I have mixed feelings as to whether this is going to work. I'd want to know what they mean when they say they're going to "monitor" it. And ...1
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