Opinion: Women’s March should not support human trafficking website

Backpage was federally shut down after 14 years of activation on April 6. Backpage, the world’s largest classified ad website, posts nearly 1 million sex ads daily and has historical links to 71 percent of all human trafficking cases. Half of the victims are girls under the age of 17, some as young as 7.…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/lilyelenar/" target="_self">Laureate </a>


April 19, 2018

Backpage was federally shut down after 14 years of activation on April 6.

Backpage, the world’s largest classified ad website, posts nearly 1 million sex ads daily and has historical links to 71 percent of all human trafficking cases. Half of the victims are girls under the age of 17, some as young as 7.

The shutting down of the despicable website, responsible for putting tens of thousands of young women and children through the unthinkable, ought to be a victory for organizations such as Women’s March. According to their official website, Women’s March is “committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.”

Oxford Dictionary defines dignity as “the fact of being given honor and respect by the people,” or a “sense of your own importance and value.”

Sex trafficking and prostitution strips away the dignity of young women and children everywhere. If Women’s March is committed to promoting dignity, they would not support sites which facilitate sex trafficking and prostitution. The shutdown of Backpage is a victory for women’s dignity and respect. But Women’s March does not think so.

On April 7, the official Women’s March twitter account tweeted, “The shutting down of #Backpage is an absolute crisis for sex workers who rely on the site to safely get in touch with clients. Sex workers rights are women’s rights…”

The red flags are flying! How can a movement that claims to empower women hold the stance that Backpage is good for women?

This is the problem with Women’s March. Women’s March’s official position on current issues does not follow what they claim to believe in. If they really wanted to empower women, they would not support a site dealing with prostitution and sex trafficking. Children are sold nightly, and most victims die within seven years of being enslaved if not rescued. An organization committed to bringing dignity to women cannot support Backpage. But Women’s March’s tweet says that they do.

So of course, Women’s March argues that they go against human trafficking but want to protect the sex workers who work with consent. Sex work does not empower women. Marchers chant for respect, but how can they expect that if they cannot even respect themselves? There is nothing, absolutely nothing uplifting about the exploitation of a woman’s body- consented or not.

Backpage obtains 99 percent of its income from sex ads, and many of these ads are children who are not even aware they are featured there. According to The Gospel Coalition, sex ads on Backpage will not be removed even after requests from parents of the child being advertised. It can take many requests from many people to ultimately remove the ad.

If Women’s March is unaware of the violations noted above and continues to support Backpage, their utter ignorance is exposed. If Women’s March is aware of this and continues to support Backpage, they are completely twisted and should know they are supporting a website endangering young women and children daily, while supporting the rights of sex workers. Since Women’s March thinks the shutdown of Backpage is such a “crisis,” they should try telling that to the parents of young girls victimized all around the world.

There were extensive judicial cases working for the justice of shutting down Backpage, arguing the site is a forum for free speech. The defending attorneys say the Federal Communications Decency Act, Section 230, generally grants protections to these kinds of websites. The investigations on Backpage were difficult as Backpage encourages anonymous payments, and company executives refused to answer questions asked by Senate committee members in early 2017. Carl Ferrer, CEO of Backpage, faced 10 felony charges including conspiracy to pimping.

Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General at the time said, “Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel.”

On March 28, President Trump signed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, which holds websites liable when users advertise sex. The legislation was highly influenced by the documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” which portrays sex trafficking survivors.

So why on earth is Women’s March angry about the shutdown of Backpage? Frankly, it is just another example of the organization contradicting itself. Women’s March has the intention of promoting equality but their actions are based on distorted logic.

Women’s March supports “women’s rights” by advocating pro choice, but what about the rights of that unborn baby girl? Women’s March wants women to be treated with more respect and to stop sexual harassment, but wear “pussy hats” and support prostitution and human trafficking websites like Backpage. Women’s March is adamant about a woman’s right to her body, to the point of supporting sites that exploit, damage, and end the lives of thousands of young women and children.

The takeaway from this is that the shutdown of Backpage is not an “absolute crisis.” The shutdown of Backpage is a positive step in the right direction to protect females who are exploited daily. Women’s March should be disgusted with themselves for supporting a website that hurts the very people they want to help.

—by Hannah Silvestro

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