There has been considerable bickering back and forth between several high profile reporters and members of several anti-trafficking groups about the actual # of US kids trapped in sexual exploitation here in the States. One of the main skeptics being from the Village Voice, who questions the veracity of the statistic that there are between 100 and 300 thousand kids forced into illegal prostitution and pornography every year in the US. The same Village Voice who owns (and profits greatly from) Backpage.com, which has a prolific adult services section that has been well documented to facilitate prostitution and has also been used as a vehicle for the exploitation of minors. (After Craigslist shut down their Adult services section in the US Backpage’s revenues jumped 15% the next month, online prostitution ads in 23 U.S. cities increased to $1,671,685 for the month of September.)
What’s worse is the Voice singled out Ashton Kutcher, and then proceeded to berate him for what they perceived as poor movie choices, poor acting, and poor anti-trafficking activism, degrading Ads run by Kutcher’s anti-trafficking non-profit as “frat boy humor”. Below, one of the Ads from the Demi and Ashton Foundation that Kutcher founded with movie star wife Demi Moore. The ads are built around the slogan “real men don’t buy girls”.
The Voice argues the 2001 University of Pennsylvania study that Kutcher and others quote estimated only the number of children who are “at risk” of commercial
sexual exploitation, not the actual number currently trafficked. And it castigates Kutcher for not clarifying. Kutcher responded with a series of Tweets (he has 7 million followers) attacking Village Voice Media for the adult classifieds in its alternative weekly and on its website BackPage.com.
“It is true that Village Voice Media has a stake in this discussion,” responded Voice editors, “But the facts speak for themselves.” This seems a somewhat peculiar if not open confession of the causal link between the trafficking of children and the adult services section of the Voice’s publications.
Dear Village Voice, does it really matter if there are one to three thousand or a hundred times that many kids trapped in prostitution in the US?? I mean if it were your daughter, one child would be enough. What do you have the problem with? Does irresponsible reporting somehow offend your sense of impeccable journalistic standards? What about irresponsible business practices? Does it endanger children if the statistics are skewed in the wrong directions, inflated by the passions and good intentions of the tireless abolitionists on the front-line of the anti-sex trade fight? Or does the real danger come when those with money on the line pollute the discussion by disingenuous, half-hearted arguments with suspect motives. What are you doing to stop child trafficking? Why not follow Craigslist’s example and shut down your Backpage adult services section. If anything, the statistics in question will go down. What do you have to lose- besides a little face, and oh yeah, a lot of cash. Real papers don’t sell girls.
This article was written by MARK LANGHAM, activist, owner and writer for Conspiracy of Hope, an organization whose sole purpose is to stop the sexual exploitation of children. Visit http://www.conspiracyofhope.org.