Craigslist embroiled in sex trafficking scandal
Two sex workers have accused online auction website Craigslist of "facilitating sex trafficking" in an open letter to The Washington Post. The letter was run as a half page advert and called for the site's Adult Services section to be shut down.
In it, MC (name protected) states that, "I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11-years-old by a 28-year-old man. All day, other girls and I sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist.
"I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren't of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are of making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths".
AK backs up the claim, detailing accounts that she was "sold for sex by the hour at truck stops, 10 hours with 10 different men each night".
Craigslist claims that it polices its Adult Services area and is a scapegoat for a wider problem: "Scapegoating advertising services is a very unfortunate misdirection of attention and energy from the tough choices, hard work, and significant investments required for addressing actual causes of, and making actual progress against the scourges of trafficking and child exploitation", says Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of the auction site.
The company had previously removed its erotic section, banned nude pictures and now levies a charge of $10 per advertisement in the revamped area.
However, critics say this isn't enough, and certainly no deterrent. Rep. Jackie Speier, whose Bay Area district includes Craiglist's HQ, goes as far as telling The Washington Post that "they are aiding and abetting the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and for that reason, they should take it down".
However, with an expected turnover of around $36 million a year just for that section, is that likely?
So far, founder Craig Newmark has declined to respond.