Wednesday, August 25, 2010

State Attorney General's Call on Craigslist to Remove Adult Services

From the Associated Press State AGs: Craigslist should drop adult services

HARTFORD, Conn. — State attorneys general nationwide are demanding that Craigslist remove its adult services section because they say the website cannot adequately block potentially illegal ads.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced Tuesday that he and colleagues in 16 states have sent a letter calling on the classified advertising site to get rid of its adult services category.
The attorneys general say Craigslist is not completely screening out ads that promote prostitution and child trafficking. The site creators pledged in 2008 to improve their policing efforts.

Other states joining the effort are Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.


Craigslist's so-called Adult Services Section drew new attention in early August with an open letter from the Rebecca Project: "Craig, I am AK. In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend, and my life as an average girl—
looking forward to college, doing my chores, and hanging out with my friends—ended. This “boyfriend” soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life.

Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times. I personally know over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site —Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot. One Craigslist caller viciously brutalized me, threatening to dump my body in a river. Miraculously, I survived.

Craig, I am MC. I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28 year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age, his house was called “Daddy Day Care.” All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock —and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car.

I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren’t of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths.

Craig, we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out, and the men who carry out, and men who arrange them very rich. Craig, we know you oppose trafficking and exploitation. But right now, Craigslist is the choice of traffickers because it’s
so well known and there are rarely consequences to using it for these illegal acts."

The saga continued, first with Craigslist's response arguing that "We work with law enforcement to bring to justice any criminals foolish enough to incriminate themselves by misusing our site, and want to make sure everything possible has been done in your cases. . .
craigslist is used by more than 50 million Americans to facilitate billions of interactions each month, and criminal misuse of the site is quite rare. . . craigslist is one of the few bright spots and success stories in the critical fight against trafficking and child exploitation." This was followed by the Rebecca Project's question

"Where is your outrage? . . . Craig, if this were a bar and children were being raped in the basement we would close the bar down to protect the children. We are asking you to do what’s right, close down the adult services section until you have an effective solution that ensures children will not be bought and sold online."

Today, 17 state attorney generals called on Craigslist to shut down the Adult Services section.
"Ads for prostitution, including ads trafficking children, continue to be a grave problem on Craigslist," said [Maryland Attorney General] Gansler. "While the company has made progress in blocking such ads, it is unfortunately not enough. More must be done to combat the human exploitation that these ads foster."

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