Village Voice HQ Is Being Protested for 'Facilitation of Sex Trafficking'

rsz_protestersvvm.jpg
Robert Sietsema
A group protesting against what they call the " Backpage.com's Facilitation of Sex Trafficking" has gathered in numbers of about 50 outside our office. The group is made of a handful of organizations including The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Prostitution Research and Education, and others.

Intern Rebecca Nathanson, who's downstairs, reports that the group has started a picket line, has drums, and are chanting. There are, according to Nathanson, at least two people protesting the protesters.

Robert Sietsema reports that it's mainly "women in their 20s and men in their 50s." They're all carrying new pink umbrellas that say Apt. 5 (purchased from a nearby Duane Reade). "They massed to the north of the Village Voice offices and then started marching in a circle chanting 'Village Voice, you have a choice, don't sell girls who have no voice,'" he says.

Per a memo from Village Voice Media to staffers,

We expect the entire staff to respect the rights of everyone assembled.

At the same time we want our people to understand that not only do we disagree with the protestors, we believe their understanding of the issues to be built upon misinformation.

....

You should also understand that Village Voice Media is the industry leader in policing our site to keep underage kids out of adult classifieds.

In their announcement of the protest, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women stated that there have been 50 cases of trafficking identified by law enforcement in the last three years. What CATW neglected to mention is that in the period of time Backpage.com ran nearly 100 million classified ads, of which approximately 14 million were adult.

We can only hope that CATW will respect the First Amendment rights of the millions who use Backpage.com

In the interim, we ask that you, and all readers of Village Voice Media, support Senate Bill 596.

As an organization, the Voice has been pretty vocal about the issue. We've published three cover stories and several blog posts about it. You can find them below.

We'll continue to update as things progress.

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Robert Sietsema

4:40 p.m.: Sietsema reports that speakers are beginning. Nathanson was handed a brochure from the Sex Workers' Outreach Project stating that sex work does not equal trafficking and that "Shutting down Backpage.com is harmful towards sex workers."

4:47: Sietsema says a speaker is "comparing exploitation of women to lynching." He says a procession of 20 or so people dressed in head to toe white with their eyes covered with bandages have been carrying candles and marching to a drum. There have been four speakers so far, including Sunsara Taylor from Revolution. "If the pornography and the violence against women is the analogy to lynching, then Backpage is the auction block," Taylor reportedly said.

5:01: Poet Jonathan Walton is reading: "So I step up a magazine stand and the bodies of women are for sale. And I think to myself, what's worse: Burkas or bulimia?"

5:11: Victoria Bekiempis reports that Aaron Cohen of "Slave Hunters," who spoke earlier, said, "It's just the tip of the iceberg, we are talking about a monster that is wrapping its tentacles around women and children. The Holocaust was the big event of one generation. This is the Holocaust of another generation. It's raining now. These are tears from God."

5:40: Bekiempis says there are 50 people outside, according to cops, of whom there are three total, one in plainclothes. The protesters continue to chant, including "No more selling here. Village Voice, change your career."

Bekiempis says the protesters are peaceful, with no complaints from cops. It's continuing to rain slightly. They're scheduled to stay until 7.

6:12: The group has died down to less than 30.

Lost Boys
Real Men Get Their Facts Straight
Women's Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science
Ashton Kutcher Fights Human Sex Trafficking in Iowa Newspaper
Ashton Kutcher and the Problem of Underage Prostitutes
The Schapiro Group Responds to Our Cover Story About Sex-Trafficking Study

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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44 comments
laurenchaves
laurenchaves

Backpage makes 31 million dollars from sex ad's, which feature underage girls.

31 million dollars looks like a successful American dream, but is it really?

Last time I checked facilitating the rape of 12 year old girls wasn't Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, and John Adams idea of American. Backpage I know reject you and anyone who works for you as no longer human. 

Classified
Classified

I like how Village Voice is so pathetic in it's desperate, sad little attempts to downplay the human trafficking issue associated with them instead of just growing up and doing something about like taking down the adult section of backpage. Looks like you baddies don't wanna suck it up and spit the titty out any time soon unfortunately. We'll be waiting for you in the wide world of adulthood and maturity when you finally decide to make your move kiddos.

Juliegrant
Juliegrant

I sell my sexual services on backpage.  I don't sell myself, my body and neither does anyone else. I am an adult legal sex worker in canada and i advertize on backpage like most of my friends do.  Leave it alone!

Sunsara Taylor
Sunsara Taylor

This piece not only trivializes the nightmare of degradation, brutality and terror that is inflicted not only on the women who are trafficked but also on the overwhelming majority of women who are in many other ways tricked, coerced or forced into prostitution through male predation, outright violence, isolation and desperation.  The average age of entry into prostitution in this country is 12 or 13.

Also, this piece misquotes me.  I didn't say that pornography was the modern day equivalent of lynchings -- I quoted Bob Avakian who spoke of the way white people used to gather in celebrations to participate in the lynchings of Black people.  They would bring their children and pack picnics.  Then, they would pose with the mutilated bodies of Black people and snap pictures.  Out of those pictures, they would make POSTCARDS OF THE HANGINGS.

Bob Avakian goes on to say:

"Today, the way in which pornography depicts women -- the displaying of women in a degraded state for the titillation of viewers -- including the grotesque brutality and violence against women which is involved in much of this, is the equivalent of the 'postcards of the hanging.'  It is a means through which all women are demeaned and degraded."

This is true.  And, continually the analogy, I did say and I stand by my statement that Backpage.com -- which profits in the sale of women's flesh -- is one of the modern day auction blocks.

Here is a link to my speech:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

femi-not-nazi
femi-not-nazi

Funny how just as I began to provide some facts, my comments are suddenly"awaiting approval"

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)

Jax
Jax

Fitchburg, Wis., police say the runaway teenager, who has an infant son, was forced into prostitution in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Police say a pimp advertised her on Backpage.com as a 25-year-old providing “adult services.”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has focused on fighting Internet crime against children, has stated that iIllegal activity has occurred on Backpage.com and other websites, Van Hollen said.

“More than 200 cyber tips involving unlawful web activity—including activity on Backpage.com—and numerous child enticement and child pornography cases are investigated by Wisconsin’s ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force,” the statement said, noting that such investigations have resulted in more than 100 arrests this year.

Van Hollen encouraged all websites to cooperate with law enforcement to prevent their sites from being “conduits for illegal activity.”

Backpage.com officials have readily acknowledged prostitution ads appear on the website, but said in a February 2011 statement they have introduced some policies to eradicate illegal activity on the website, including implementing a no-nudity policy. (gee, thanks.)

But Backpage.com hasn’t gone far enough for the attorneys general, who said the website makes an estimated $22.7 million per year from ads in the “adult” section.

“We believe Backpage.com sets a minimal bar for content review in an effort to temper public condemnation, while ensuring that the revenue spigot provided by prostitution advertising remains intact,” the letter says.

Lt. Steve Elliott of the Appleton Police Department agrees online escort advertisements like those found on Backpage.com often mask what is actually human trafficking in Wisconsin, a crime he says is hidden and pervasive. 

Jax
Jax

It's difficult to be objective when you're making 2 million a month.  Since August, 51 Attorneys General have called upon Backpage to cease its facilitation of sex trafficking. They have cited more than 50 cases across 22 U.S. states in the past three years that involve Backpage's facilitation of sex trafficking. 

Backpage generates an estimated $2 million per month largely by functioning as a virtual red light district for pimps/traffickers and johns in the U.S. and at least 10 other countries. Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC displays a reckless disregard for human rights and could instead act to create a sex trafficking free Internet by no longer hosting prostitution ads through Backpage. 

Jacquelyn arsenuk
Jacquelyn arsenuk

It's difficult to be objective when you're making 2 million a month isn't it?  Since August, 51 Attorneys General have called upon Backpage to cease its facilitation of sex trafficking. They have cited more than 50 cases across 22 U.S. states in the past three years that involve Backpage's facilitation of sex trafficking. 

Backpage generates an estimated $2 million per month largely by functioning as a virtual red light district for pimps/traffickers and johns in the U.S. and at least 10 other countries. Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC displays a reckless disregard for human rights and could instead act to create a sex trafficking free Internet by no longer hosting prostitution ads through Backpage.

rob
rob

i'm sorry dudes but apparently 'time out new york' copyrighted the phrase "facilitation of sex trafficking"

Jax
Jax

While I appreciate being grouped among "mainly women in their 20's," I do wonder how you all sleep at night. 

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

CLICK HERE for more information on the Village Voice protests nationwideCLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE BACKPAGE AND VILLAGE VOICE PROTEST AT CAL. STATE FULLERTON ON OCTOBER 6, 2011CLICK HERE for the National Association of Attorneys General demand letter to backpage.com  ANNOUNCEMENT:The National Boycott of the the Village Voice and all their sponsors starts Nov. 16th, 2011.Our demand is simple:  "Stop Selling Children and other human trafficking victims on all your papers, websites and related properties that you directly or indirectly control.  We the people will not spend another nickle with you or your sponsors until this is done."Call: 888-206-3264 or email: phil@stopslavery2011.com If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocates

phone:  +1.888.206.3264  email:   info@stopslavery2012.comwww.stopslavery2012.com  Protest backpage.com and Village Voice Media's facilitation of Sex Trafficking In Front of Its New York City Headquarters Nov. 16th  4-7 pm.CLICK HERE for more information on the Village Voice protests nationwideCLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE BACKPAGE AND VILLAGE VOICE PROTEST AT CAL. STATE FULLERTON ON OCTOBER 6, 2011CLICK HERE for the National Association of Attorneys General demand letter to backpage.com  ANNOUNCEMENT:The National Boycott of the the Village Voice and all their sponsors starts Nov. 16th, 2011.Our demand is simple:  "Stop Selling Children and other human trafficking victims on all your papers, websites and related properties that you directly or indirectly control.  We the people will not spend another nickle with you or your sponsors until this is done."Call: 888-206-3264 or email: phil@stopslavery2011.com If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)Quotes:"We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PASS
PASS

I represent the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery in Hawaii and one of our clients, who is a child victim of sex-trafficking, was pimped out for sale on backpage.com. You have an obligation to stop this. Your disclaimers and protections online to prevent children from being sold on backpage are NOT ENOUGH.

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

Please type "backpage human trafficking victim" into google.

This is a problem that you are directly facilitating, and all we ask is you to stop.

Simple.-----------------------------------

National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocatesphone:  +1.888.206.3264  email:   info@stopslavery2012.comwww.stopslavery2012.com  Protest backpage.com and Village Voice Media's facilitation of Sex Trafficking In Front of Its New York City Headquarters Nov. 16th  4-7 pm.CLICK HERE for more information on the Village Voice protests nationwideCLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE BACKPAGE AND VILLAGE VOICE PROTEST AT CAL. STATE FULLERTON ON OCTOBER 6, 2011CLICK HERE for the National Association of Attorneys General demand letter to backpage.com  ANNOUNCEMENT:The National Boycott of the the Village Voice and all their sponsors starts Nov. 16th, 2011.Our demand is simple:  "Stop Selling Children and other human trafficking victims on all your papers, websites and related properties that you directly or indirectly control.  We the people will not spend another nickle with you or your sponsors until this is done."Call: 888-206-3264 or email: phil@stopslavery2011.com If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)Quotes:"We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bastion of Hypocrisy
Bastion of Hypocrisy

Come on, Village Voice.  Since when is ANY protest too insane or misinformed or delusional for you not to support it?  Oh, when it affects YOUR bottom line. Got it.

Manhattan Call Girl
Manhattan Call Girl

Sex trafficking involves being broken by pimps, who often work with corrupt police officers.  Being broken means being gang raped, beaten, having your life threatened, and being locked in a windowless room.  It's torture.  I will never be the same.  And i'm one of the lucky ones because I escaped.  My Johns might have thought I was a 'voluntary' prostitute, because they didn't see the beatings, the rapes, the threats on my life, the constant control and surveillance by the pimps.  Most minutes of most days during those terrible times I wished I was dead, so I could escape the degradation, terror and pain.

Manhattan Call Girl
Manhattan Call Girl

I was sex trafficked via the Village Voice in the days before Backpage.  I am so grateful to the protestors. 

Mr. Bilboe
Mr. Bilboe

Something doesnt feel right here. Is this really about the children? Or just the wealthy elite using that as a front to silence the masses, and take out the competition? Gee i wonder.

rob
rob

maybe they're in line to get free passes to the new muppet movie

rob
rob

man suddenly i really want a vitamin water

rob
rob

are we sure this isn't an oblique scientology thing

rob
rob

is alicia keys there

Classified
Classified

In addition to that comment, I wish Anonymous would've added you to it's LulzXmas list to be plundered as well, we all know you deserve it. :)

femi-not-nazi
femi-not-nazi

what a very individualistic, capitalist way of looking at the issue. 

normajeana
normajeana

Jerry Sandusky and his pedophile colleagues in sports did not find their victims on backpage.com But do these victims matter to you? I doubt it. What about government statistics which state that over a three year period, they could only find 2,515 alleged victims of human trafficking, of which only 30% were found to be actual victims, and not all of those were sex trafficking- but were victims trafficked into domestic servitude, agriculture, restaurants, maids at hotels, garment manufacturing etc. Again, don't THOSE type of victims matter to people like you? 

normajeana
normajeana

What about the victims of Jerry Sandusky- again, none of them did he find on the internet...last year Penn State made an estimated 53 million dollars from their football enterprise- which averages about $4.4 million per month.... I'VE GOT IT- LET"S CLOSE DOWN FOOTBALL AND ALL SCHOOL ATHLETIC DEPARTMENTS because there maybe many such pedophiles throughout the system- making FAR more than backpage.com is!http://www.newsday.com/sports/...

normajeana
normajeana

In 2011 alone, over 100 law enforcement agents were caught having sex with underage people- many of them children (rather than teenagers). NONE of them found THEIR victims on backpage.com or craigslist... http://www.policeprostitutiona...What about the victims of Jerry Sandusky- again, none of them did he find on the internet...last year Penn State made an estimated 53 million dollars from their football enterprise- which averages about $4.4 million per month.... I'VE GOT IT- LET"S CLOSE DOWN FOOTBALL AND ALL SCHOOL ATHLETIC DEPARTMENTS because there maybe many such pedophiles throughout the system- making FAR more than backpage.com is!http://www.newsday.com/sports/...

normajeana
normajeana

Given the number of recent revelations about athletic departments and pedophile coaches, wouldn't it be just as rational to shut down ALL athletic departments to prevent more children from becoming victims? Or are the colleges and universities too concerned about THEIR bottoms lines with the football/ basketball/ soccer etc. teams and the MILLIONS of dollars they reap from these departments? Or don't THOSE victims matter to you? Where are these prohibitionists on these victims? CCL?

Susanlynn1963
Susanlynn1963

Yes, thank you Stella. We have to talk so we can educate people. Keep talking :)

normajeana
normajeana

That's just how I felt when I worked for the LAPD- knowing about the corruption among my colleagues, being threatened by citizens on the street... I am lucky I escaped to become... a call girl... a much better job for me- a major career step up!Obviously not everyone should go into law enforcement, and not all women in law enforcement experience the trauma that I did. I left the LAPD after ten long miserable years suffering near complete emotional shut down. It wasn't until I started working in sex work that I began the healing process. Everybody has a story, Stella. Yours is NO reason to stop other women from engaging in commercial sex if that is their choice- as it was mine- anymore than MY bad experience is a reason to stop other women from going into law enforcement. Go after the bad cops, the bad employers, the bad clients. We don't even put rapists in prison these days- because the cops are too busy busting prostitutes and their non violent, non abusive clients. Don't believe it? In 2010, there were 84,768 reported rapes, of which the cops arrested 17,132 alleged rapists (about 20%) while they arrested 52,211 people for engaging in consenting adult commercial sex. I bet those rape victims wonder why society is MORE concerned about adult women who have NOT asked for help than they are for those victims of rape who asked for help and did not get it.

Lynn R
Lynn R

Thank you, Stella for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for what you went through!

Sarah Kathryn Hall
Sarah Kathryn Hall

Stella, thanks for sharing your voice, your rescue with us, I am so sorry that happened to you. You were made for more, you were made to be loved! I work with a local non-profit that is working on building an aftercare and outreach house for sex trafficked survivors, its called Beloved (www.be-loved.cc) check it out, and it is honestly an honor to write you and  it is women like you that keep me going, as long as there is one in slavery, I will continue to raise awareness, love them, care for them, and be apart of the rescue of them. I was a rape victim myself and my heart was transformed by an encounter I had with Jesus Christ on May 6,2011, He took my shame,guilt, pain, hurt,darkness and gave me a new life w/ a new heart and I want other women to know it is possible for them too, that no one has gone too far! No one is disqualified from the unconditional love of Jesus that shown so clearly on the cross. Thanks again for your bravery in sharing your story, I hope that backpage and villiage voice will understand the role they play and men and women play with they by porn or sell an ad like they have on these sites, they are fueling a fire that is across our nation and world. Thanks Stella and God bless you.

Sarah Hall

Lynn R
Lynn R

There were no "wealthy elite" at the protest. Believe it or not, "Celebrities" are humans who have actual emotions & yes, even care about currant events. In lending their name to causes they support, it helps bring in people who are uneducated about what's going on in the world.

Philip James Cenedella
Philip James Cenedella

CLICK HERE for more information on the Village Voice protests nationwideCLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ON THE BACKPAGE AND VILLAGE VOICE PROTEST AT CAL. STATE FULLERTON ON OCTOBER 6, 2011CLICK HERE for the National Association of Attorneys General demand letter to backpage.com  ANNOUNCEMENT:The National Boycott of the the Village Voice and all their sponsors starts Nov. 16th, 2011.Our demand is simple:  "Stop Selling Children and other human trafficking victims on all your papers, websites and related properties that you directly or indirectly control.  We the people will not spend another nickle with you or your sponsors until this is done."Call: 888-206-3264 or email: phil@stopslavery2011.com If you have any questions on the Village Voice / BACKPAGE direct connection to the human trafficking (slavery) of children and other human trafficking victims then please go to google and type in  "backpage human trafficking victim" to get information from other sources (currently over 401,000 results)

Lynn R
Lynn R

Actually, no...it's about underage girls & boys being FORCED to have sex with men

mjm
mjm

it's probably an oblique kaballah thing because they own ashton and demi's charity.

but demi was a former escort herself so wouldn't that make her a hypocrite...

rob
rob

does she look nice

Lynn R
Lynn R

No again. They don't own the DNAFoundation which is actually not quite a charity, but rather an organization that helps little girls & boys that have been FORCED to have sex with men. And where are you getting your info about Demi??? An escort? Nope...never happened. She's an ACTRESS that once had a role as a stipper but no, never an escort. Human Trafficking has nothing to do with kaballah.

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