Last week, the US government shutdown the classified advertising website Backpage.com on allegations that the site was profiting off of illegal prostitution. The website and its affiliates were seized by a joint effort of the FBI, Post Office, and IRS.
Online classifieds have long been criticized for facilitating sex trafficking. In 2010, human rights activists called Craigslist the "biggest online hub for selling women against their will.” (Craigslist gave up its adult service page listings in 2010.) In 2012, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof called Backpage “a godsend to pimps, allowing customers to order a girl online as if she were a pizza.”
Online classifieds can quickly become part of traffickers’ “business plan,” says Sandra Morgan, director of the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University.
“Finding ways to manage the internet highway is how we do a better job protecting our communities,” Morgan said.
Morgan joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss how Backpage’s departure will affect sex trafficking in the United States, how new federal legislation could impact how traffickers get prosecuted and why evangelicals are so passionate about helping the sexually exploited.
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