Shame on you Craigslist! (or NOT)

Craigslist is a great free service for buying, selling, and locating all types of things. You can rent an apartment; you can discuss your taxes. You can read the missed connections*. And, apparently, you can buy sex– sometimes from underage trafficked children.

The first time I heard about this was in 2006 in San Diego at the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Traumas Annual International Conference.  The second time was this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on March 6th.

At the conference on violence, abuse and trauma, I attended a session by the FBI’s office on online child pornography and trafficking. Our presenter taught us a lot about online predators of children, how they are bring tracked, and how the kids are being rescued.  Some of what they do includes facial recognition for missing and vulnerable children.  He showed us how in some cases they had found myspace pages for 14 year old girls and then correlated them to young 18 year olds being pimped online.  He also talked about how much cooperation it takes to do this kind of work (federal law enforcement, local law enforcement, internet companies, parents, watch groups, etc.).  I specifically remember him saying how quickly facebook responded to all requests for information and how quickly they took down inappropriate material when alerted.

The MJ Sentinel article talks about how a cook county sheriff “filed a federal lawsuit against the Web-based classified site Thursday, saying Craigslist promotes and facilitates prostitution on a massive scale.”

Yes, I think that it is horrible that people are being pimped on craigslist.  Obviously from my blog, I am very interested in ways to combat trafficking of people and prostitution of minors… still, I am not sure this is the way to go about it.  Craigslist is being used because it is there.  If it is taken down, they will simply move to a different website.  Perhaps the next one won’t be so quick to comply with requests.

I guess the point is that trafficking is a system.  Prostitution is a system.  You need to attack the entire system in order to break it down, not just a tangential medium.

*For those who don’t know missed connections, it is funny. It is a section to find people you missed and like. Recent postings in Milwaukee include:

White truck next to Saturn 7:20 AM – w4m – 34 (BP – Downtown Sussex)

I was the gal pumping gas on the same island when you emerged from your truck wearing a Dickies work coat and holding a huge cup of coffee. Pardon the look on my face, I never expected you to be so darn handsome!

and

We were both at Supercuts earlier this afternoon. You were wearing a uniform for an airline carrier. I had noticed your glances towards me and I am sure you had noticed me. I had overhead you telling your stylist that you will be leaving shortly for a flight. If by chance you do see this, would you be interested in meeting for coffee? Tell me what airline you work for or where you were flying to so that I know that it is you.

and

I feel strange posting this as I’ve never done anything like this before. I would never want to make you feel uncomfortable or cause any disruption for you but I just want you to know I think you are the coolest and most beautiful girl I’ve laid eyes on. I believe when you feel that way about someone you have to at least say something. Then again I can’t do that at work so here I am. What hint can I give you – well you drive a car which model begins with S. Take a chance and email me.

One comment

  1. I read an article about Craigslist and the trafficked children just the other day. At first, I was horrified. But then I came to the same conclusion you did: if they get all up in Craigslist’s business, the people trafficking those children will just pick a different venue. And that venue may be more difficult to track or may take years to locate and investigate, which means that more children will suffer in the meantime. I hope they find a way to take care of it (I also hope they torture the bastards who do such horrible things to CHILDREN, but that’s another story) but I hope they can find a way to eliminate the problem without forcing the traffickers to improve their methods of doing business.

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