Senators Call On Backpage To End Human Trafficking Through Adult Services Advertising

(Washington DC) – Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirk (R-IL), Cornyn (R-TX), Whitehouse (D-RI), Rubio (R-FL), Lieberman (I-CT), Cantwell (D-WA), and Gillibrand (D-NY) today introduced a Sense of the Senate resolution calling on the owners of Backpage.com to cease the website’s facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution by eliminating the adult section of the website.

“Unconscionably, Backpage is enabling prostitution and human trafficking through the adult section of the website supporting an avenue for abuse and violence against women and children. Backpage must shutdown the adult section immediately ending its involvement in such repugnant and destructive practices,” said Senator Blumenthal. 

“With the introduction of this resolution, the Senate resolves that Village Voice Media should cease the facilitation of sex trafficking by taking down the portion of Backpage’s website that law enforcement continues to prove is victimizing children,” said spokesperson for Senator Kirk. “The ‘profit first’ mentality at Backpage and Village Voice Media continues to prioritize the rights of pimps, not kids. Even victims continue to point to the website’s role in their solicitation.” 

“The so-called ‘Adult Entertainment’ section is nothing more than a front for pimps and child sex traffickers. This is absolutely sickening, and should be stopped with all the tools available to us,” said Senator Cornyn

Backpage.com, an online classified ad website owned by Village Voice Media, is a major facilitator of online child trafficking through its adult section. This section includes services such as “escorts” and “body rubs”, thinly-veiled codes for prostitution.

According to AIM Group, Backpage.com is the leading United States website for prostitution advertising, generating nearly 80 percent of the online prostitution advertising revenue. In fact, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) found more than 50 cases in 22 states that tied child prostitution crimes to ads posted on Backpage.com. Similar classified advertising websites, such as Craigslist.com, have taken down their adult services ads after being petitioned to eliminate the section. Backpage.com continues to ignore the evidence, putting profit above children’s safety. The lawmakers join 51 attorneys general and more than 90,000 Americans who signed a petition in urging Backpage.com to remove the adult services section.

Recently, Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirk (R-IL), Rubio (R-FL), and Cornyn (R-TX) wrote to 40 organizations informing them that the parent company they advertise on, Village Voice publications, owns Backpage.com. The senators further requested that the organizations use their economic influence as revenue generators for Village Voice Media to end online child sex trafficking facilitated by Backpage.com. Additionally, 19 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Chairman and CEO of Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, the company that operates Backpage.com, demanding the elimination of the adult section that allows the website to profit from the human trafficking industry.

A Department of Justice report shows that approximately 300,000 children in the United States are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. 

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Press Contact

Nu Wexler (Blumenthal) (202) 224-6452

Nicole Barrett (Kirk) (202) 228-3853

Drew Brandewie (Cornyn) (202) 224 -0704