Following on from my article “On Human Trafficking,” this piece deals with child trafficking to the United States via sex ads that are posted on Craigslist, a much-visited website that is a clearing board for classified ads specific to different areas of the United States and foreign countries. Prostitution services are regularly posted to Craigslist, including ads for sex with minors, but Craigslist officials insist that they try to monitor the content of postings and that they have no responsibility for what users post. In the past, Craigslist has donated all the revenue they received from sex service ads, but this year the company will be keeping these profits.
If you’ve ever perused Craigslist, you know it can be an excellent place to find used furniture, scope out apartment prices in other cities or look for temporary work. You’ve probably also seen the “Adult Gigs” section, which is filled with thinly disguised posts written by men wanting to exchange sex for money and women advertising themselves (example: “Hot Model Wanted by Wealthy Guy”). I always assumed that Craigslist made at least some effort, as they claim, to monitor these ads for anything clearly inappropriate. Not the case Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), an organization that helps sexually exploited women, says that Craigslist is the biggest means of bringing children into the United States for sex work.
In previous years, Craigslist has tried to offset this harm by donating any money it receives from sex ads to charity. This year, however, the company plans to keep that money‚ an estimated $36 million.
I am, first of all, shocked that the same site I look at everyday to see what going on in my city is a hub for child prostitution. I’m not naive enough to believe that Craigslist employees are making any reasonable effort to cut down on the sex-for-money ads posted on their site, but the idea of children being sold sickens me – especially considering that Craigslist has changed its mind all of a sudden and decided to pocket their sex ad revenue instead of at least trying to mitigate the harm they’re doing.
Why does Craigslist need a section for sex work anyway? As the CEO of the company pointed out, there are plenty of adult-oriented sites that offer the same ads already. It seems to be coming down to pure greed, and a lack of concern about the thousands of nameless girls who are being sold on their website.
– Miriam Musco
Girl Museum Inc.