Congresswoman Ann Wagner

Representing the 2nd District of Missouri

Human Trafficking & Online Prostitution Advertising

Human Trafficking & Online Prostitution Advertising

Modern-day slavery exists right here in our communities.  It is hiding in plain sight.  Every day, children in our own neighborhoods are being sold into forced prostitution.  Sexual predators can go online and have child prostitutes sent to their hotel rooms as easily as if they were ordering a pizza.

The Internet has dramatically changed the human trafficking landscape in the United States.  Over the last ten years, prostitution has slowly but persistently migrated to an online marketplace.  Online classified services, such as Backpage.com, are the vehicles for advertising the victims of the child sex trade to the world.  Pimps and traffickers blatantly advertise their victim’s sexual services with provocative photographs and unsubtle messages complete with per hour pricing.  The traffickers pay online classified websites like Backpage.com to display their messages and these websites accordingly reap enormous profits at the expense of the victims of sex trafficking.

General Figures on Human Trafficking in the United States:

Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)

The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unintended pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and death (UNICEF)

A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day.(Polaris Project)

Fewer than 100 beds are available in the United States for underage victims.(Health and Human Services)

Department Of Justice has identified the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country:” Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa  (Department of Justice)

A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

General Figures on Online Prostitution Advertising in the United States:

Revenue from U.S. online prostitution advertising totaled $45 million in 2013, surpassing a benchmark set when Craigslist abandoned its adult services section in September 2010.

Most of the $45 million generated - 82.3% - has been generated by Backpage.com, a general classifieds site that has succeeded Craigslist as the nation’s leading publisher of online prostitution advertising.

Backlash Against Backpage

Backpage's listing of sex-related ads has prompted several advocacy groups and companies to pressure the site to remove those listings. Companies H&M, IKEA and Barnes & Noble cancelled ads for publications owned by then-Backpage owner Village Voice Media.

Over 230,000 people, including 600 religious leaders, 51 attorneys general, 19 U.S. senators, over 50 non-governmental associations, musician Alicia Keys, and members of R.E.M., The Roots, and Alabama Shakes have petitioned the website to remove sexual content.

Recently, 47 State Attorneys General signed a letter to Congress asking for some federal action to change the law