Councilman Brad Lander and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito introduced a resolution today asking Village Voice Media to shut down the controversial “adult” section of its classified ad site Backpage.com. The resolution criticizes Backpage as a “platform to traffic minors for sex.”
“Whereas, Backpage.com’s adult section is facilitating sex trafficking and should alter its current practice; now, therefore, be it resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls on Village Voice Media to shut down the adult section of its online classified site, Backpage.com, because it serves as a platform to traffic minors for sex.”
According to a statement announcing the resolution, a “vast majority” of the sex trafficking cases prosecuted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office involved Backpage. Both Councilman Lander and Councilwoman Mark-Viverito said that, by continuing to operate the “adult” section of the site VVM, which owns the Village Voice in New York and several other alt-weekly papers around the country, is profiting off the exploitation of children.
“I’m outraged that Village Voice Media is willing to make money off the exploitation of trafficking victims through Backpage.com’s adult services advertising,” Mr. Lander said in the statement
“Village Voice Media must ensure that children and teenagers are not being abused in the commercial sex industry with help from their website,” Ms. Mark Viverito said. “This resolution sends the message that we will not stand silent while this company profits from exploitation.”
Anti-sex trafficking advocates claim Backpage is the mainonline site for prostitution and trafficking.
“Backpage is now the leading online facilitator of sex trafficking, operating in that least 10 other countries, generating an estimated $2 million per month– all earned through a reckless disregard for human rights,” Norma Ramos, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women said in the statement.
The online classified site Craigslist closed its similar Adult Services section in September 2010 after substantial pressure from law enforcement officials and the public. In the absence of Craigslist, Backpage’s market share for “adult” services has expanded.
In the fact of criticism over Backpage, Village Voice Media published an extensive series in their papers claiming anti-sex trafficking advocates exaggerate the extent of the sex trade in this country. As of this writing, Village Voice Media hasn’t responded to a request for comment on this story.