Scroll to the bottom of The Village Voice’s homepage and you will find a bland, colorless gray box labeled backpage.com. The last sentence of the disclaimer preempting sections of the gray box listed under “Adult” reads:
“I also agree to report suspected exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking to the appropriate authorities.”
But no disclaimer is going to put right the wrong done to children victimized by sex trafficking.
Village Voice Media, owner of 13 alternative newspapers including the Village Voice and LA Weekly, is also owner of the online classified site Backpage.com, which has been severely criticized for refusing to do away with its adult advertising on the site.
In September of 2010, 21 State Attorney Generals requested for Backpage to remove its adult services sections stating that they “believe that ads for prostitution—including ads
trafficking children—are rampant on the site.” Backpage declined the request of the attorney generals stating:
“Censorship will not create public safety nor will it rid the world of exploitation.”
This past September, Village Voice Media was again urged by a group of 45 attorney generals to help end the use of their site as a “hub” for trafficking minors.
On Tuesday, the Groundswell movement, a new multi-faith coalition took out a full-page New York Times advertisement. The advertisement was an open letter to the CEO and Chair Jim Larkin and Board of Directors of Village Voice Media, urging them to follow the lead of Craigslist (which removed it’s adult services section in 2010) and shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com. Again, Village Voice Media refused, instead pointing out on the Village Voice blog that criminals use cell phones and no one is blaming Verizon or AT&T!
The Groundswell Movement is now urging clergy and concerned citizens (THAT’S YOU!) to sign a petition demanding that Village Voice Media shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com. Make a difference and sign the petition today!