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It's Time To Stop
Sex Trafficking

Last year, one in seven runaways reported missing to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) was likely a child sex trafficking victim.

In 2013 alone, NCMEC documented over 10,000 reports of child sex trafficking. Year after year, these numbers only continue to rise.

These figures represent a tiny percentage of the abuse, misery, and exploitation suffered by children who are victimized through child sex trafficking.

Desiree Robinson

Desiree Robinson was a 16-year-old girl who was discovered murdered in a Markham garage on Christmas Eve 2016. A 32-year-old man is charged with her death and reportedly confessed to police that he had sex with the teenager before killing her. This case, however, has a troubling backstory, with reports indicating the teenager had become a victim of sex trafficking and had been featured in solicitation posts on the controversial website backpage.com. Backpage.com is the subject of a number of investigations around the country for alleged sex trafficking activity. On the night of Desiree Robinson’s death, the girl was reportedly brought to meet the defendant by two people who were unknown to her family. The young victim’s family has retained the civil rights law firm of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC to represent the girl’s interests in a broader investigation into sex trafficking and the events leading up to her death.

The Internet’s Effect on Sex Trafficking

In the past five years, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has seen a 1,432% increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking. This massive increase is directly correlated to the increased use of the Internet to sell children for sex.
 
New technology has fundamentally changed how children are victimized through sex trafficking. Today, it is an easy task for an adult to shop online from the privacy of his home or hotel room and purchase a sexual experience. Pimps and predatory offenders are aware that escort ads on backpage.com provide a marketplace of young girls and boys at their fingertips to purchase for rape and other sexual activities. In fact, 73% of all NCMEC cases of online child-sex trafficking have occurred on Backpage. 
 
NCMEC reports that Backpage knows that it actively encourages a lucrative marketplace for child sex trafficking, yet has rejected most proposals to meaningfully reduce the selling and buying of minor children for unlawful sex through its website.

Do You Think You Know Someone Who Might Be A Victim Of Child Sex Trafficking?

Do you think you know someone

Advertisements regularly reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) by concerned members of the public, and by Backpage itself, often feature highly suggestive and graphic photographs of what appear to be children. Often, it is clear from the ad's photograph that the person being offered for paid sexual activity is a minor who looks younger, and sometimes much younger, than 18 years old. Invariably, the ad's photograph is accompanied by text that unambiguously and explicitly describes the sexual experience for sale. Law enforcement has confirmed to NCMEC that each of the following Backpage ads advertised a child for sex:

"Hi, GUYS I'm NEW TO [ ], NOT TO THE LIFE, YOUNG HOT (u need that) THAT YOUNG GIRL LOOK/BODY SKILLS OF A WELL TRAINED WOMAN FETISH ALERT-LIL-GIRL­ ROLEPLAY/DRESS UP, MORE DOM., THEN SUBMISSIVE." 

"Enjoy both me and my girlfriend for an hour of the most pleasure you can experience as one man."

"I enjoy catering to mature gentlemen. My body is a gentleman's playground."

"LETS PARTY!* I LOVE TO MAKE ... -THOSE TOES CURL- - - - -!!* - - - - - - INDULGE * THESE.SOFT -.-.- THICK THIGHS, PULL THIS LONG RED HAIR & SLAP THIS FATT JIGGLEY AZZ!" 

"You pay to get it just how you like it, and juicy and waiting on you - - - I promise your going to enjoy me ... "
Help Us Help A Victim

Unfortunately, these examples are just a few of many Backpage child sex trafficking ads reported to NCMEC on a regular basis. Some of these ads are reported by Backpage moderators and some are received from members of the public. Of these public reports, 64% were reporting suspected child sex trafficking on backpage.com.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. § 230) was Congress' response to two court cases decided in New York in the early 1990's that had conflicting results. Stratton Oakmont (a firm made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film, “Wolf of Wall Street”) filed suit against the site Prodigy after one of its users had posted a comment effectively stating that Stratton Oakmont had been manipulating stocks and were crooks. The firm argued that because Prodigy filtered content (but missed this post), that it should be responsible for third party content on its site. The court agreed and the firm won. Ironically, the head of Stratton Oakmont later pled guilty to securities fraud – Meaning the original post on Prodigy’s site was in fact true. 
 
Following the ruling, in an attempt to protect new internet companies from lawsuits for content posted or created by third parties, Congress enacted Section 230 which states “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” While Congress intended for Section 230 to protect companies which try to filter content (but don’t catch everything), that protection has been expanded by federal judges to provide a full immunity for online content, even if that content was encouraged by an online operator. And even if the website, in acting like a publisher, violated another criminal statute. 
 
The reality today is that Section 230 was created and implemented during a time when the internet was in its infancy stage. Amendments must now be made to lift the cloak of protection off of websites that profit off of the sale of minors for sex. Period. 

SEE THE FILM IN THEATRES OR ON NETFLIX

Please see I AM JANE DOE in theaters playing in select cities or on Netflix to learn more about the epic battle that several American mothers are waging on behalf of their middle-school daughters, victims of sex trafficking on Backpage.com. 50% of all profits from this project will be donated back to support services and prevention efforts for child sex trafficking.

What You Can Do to Make Your Voice Heard

CONTACT MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

Please go to Democracy.io, enter your address, and write to your respective Representatives and Senators about your concern over children being sold for sex on Backpage.com and how Section 230 of the CDA must be amended to hold those responsible for participating in and profiting from child-sex trafficking. 

CONTACT THE LARGEST DONORS TO THE CDT

Technology companies are currently the primary donors to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, two high profile internet freedom groups that have filed briefs in support of Backpage in the cases filed against them by families of victims of sex trafficking. In 2014, the largest donors to the CDT included Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Consider writing letters to the CEOs of these companies asking them to discuss legislative changes to Section 230 to incentivize websites to better protect children from online sex trafficking and other online crimes.

SPREAD THE WORD

Sex trafficking continues to be a “problem” that many people consider to be taking place overseas – Not here in the backyards of urban and rural America. Estimates are now suggesting that between 500,000 and 2.8 million youth are homeless in the United States in any given year. This population is extremely vulnerable to those looking to profit from the sale of sexual services. Be sure to educate your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates to the very real dangers that exist.

MAKE A DONATION

There are a variety of wonderful organizations you can make a donation to that are dedicated to the fight against sex trafficking as well as combatting Section 230 of the CDA and its protections of Backpage.com and other sites that profit from the exploitation of children. 
 
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
 
Coalition against Trafficking in Women (CATW)
 
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
  
Covenant House: Helping Homeless Children & Youth
Help Us Help A Victim
While the Internet and advances in technology over the past few decades have allowed us to create many amazing things, they have also introduced a new threat and dimension to crimes against children. The Internet makes content and abuse easier to identify and participate in; like-minded individuals can create communities to justify their actions; digital imagery and videos allow abuse to be shared globally at the push of a button; and private and encrypted networks protect individuals that participate in the most egregious types of abuse.

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