Washington, D.C. – Concerned Women for America (CWA), the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, criticized Backpage.com for shielding itself from liability under the Communications Decency Act while creating an online marketplace for prostitution. Under the Communications Decency Act, online classified ad sites like Backpage have knowingly created an online marketplace for prostitution with child sex trafficking emerging as a predictable but hidden subset of that marketplace. A recent Accuracy in Media report estimated that Backpage is now making $5 million per month in revenue from sex ads.
CWA’s CEO and President, Penny Nance, made the following statement:
“Sex trafficking and pornography have largely moved from brothels and sleazy establishments to the Internet, thus enabling sites like Backpage to use legal loopholes to continue publishing sex ads while avoiding criminal/civil liability and even regulation. These crimes are largely local crimes, but local and state governments have their hands tied when it comes to doing anything to stop the online marketplace that is national in scope. We believe that Backpage and other online sites that are profiting from child sex trafficking and prostitution should be held culpable for aiding and abetting prostitution and sexual exploitation.”
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, head of CWA’s think tank, The Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI), and a recognized authority on sex trafficking, made the following statement:
“Having ads on Backpage and other online sites creates a culture of acceptance for sexual exploitation that is dramatically increasing the production of child pornography and the number of victims of child prostitution. Do we really want to be a nation that enables and facilitates child sex trafficking? Do we really want to endanger children and put them at risk for the sexual predators that we know are trolling the Internet? Do we really want to create a culture where sexual exploitation of women and children is socially acceptable and a characteristic of American culture?”
Concerned Women for America has been at the forefront of the battle against sex trafficking, pornography and child sexual exploitation for more than three decades. Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse received an “Abolitionist Award” from the State Department in 2008 for her work against sex slavery. Through a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, the BLI launched “The Bridge Project” – an effort that sponsored 17 training sessions that reached 7,000 people across Mexico to train them for leadership in combating sex trafficking.