By the time Norman Barnes was picked up by Massachusetts state troopers, he had made $19,000 forcing a 15-year-old girl to have sex with up to 8 men a day for 10 days. He couldn’t have done it without Backpage.com, a classified website owned by Village Voice Media. Backpage.com is reported to be the nation’s #1 online platform for advertising sex with minors. A recent letter from 51 Attorneys General to Village Voice Media’s lawyers cites over 50 cases (in 22 states) of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors for sex using the site. Although such use violates Backpage.com’s terms of service, the site continually fails to identify and remove ads selling sex with children.
Driven by the universal moral imperative to end child sex trafficking, a new multifaith action network called Groundswell has started a petition on Change.org. Sign Groundswell’s petition now to shut down the adult services section of Backpage.com — the only effective way to end child sex trafficking on the site. Village Voice Media executives are fully aware that their site is used as a platform for child sex trafficking, but have done close to nothing to stop it. Instead, after executives were confronted by the Attorneys General, the Village Voice ran a shocking cover story ‘expose’ that smeared hard-working advocacy groups by presenting sensationally low (and poorly researched) statistics on child sex trafficking.
What the story didn’t mention is that Village Voice Media earns $22.7 million a year from its adult services ads on Backpage.com, which it may have to shut down completely (like Craigslist did last year after hearing from 10,000 Change.org members) to effectively prevent the site from being used as a platform for selling sex with children.