Craigslist Removes Its Web-Based Adult Services Ads. Now What?


The above video is from the Associated Press

Will this move lead to a signficant reduction of the number of cases of underage girls invovled in sex trafficking and prostitution?  Or will this move send underage sex trafficking further underground?

Or were the 17 attorneys general just leaning on Craigslist to make a symbolic point, to appease a certain group of constituents who were leaning on them to produce results? 

And where were the AGs from the other 33 states?  Does their absence imply support for this move?  Should we infer that there aren’t problems like this in their states?  My understanding is that underage sex trafficking is a huge problem in New York.  But where was Andrew Cuomo?  I live in New Jersey and Paula T. Dow’s name was noticeably absent, too. 

Are these 17 AGs doing their job to fight child sex trafficking? Or were they hoping that the low-hanging fruit that is Craigslist would bolster their credibility with their constituents?

Instead of relying on a non-profit to do the work that we as taxpayers pay law enforcement to do, I would think that the AGs and local and state law enforcement agencies would want to work hand in hand with Craigslist to develop more formal strategies to catch these creeps. 

It’s important to note that what Craiglist was doing represents the next wave of how adult services are being exchanged.  Sex sells.  Women display, and men pay.  It’s been this way since the beginning. Prostitution is not going anywhere. 

But if these states are really serious about cracking down on underage sex trafficking, which is a horse of a different color, I would think that these Attorneys General would have taken a different approach to identifying and catching these creeps that are engaged in the abhorrent practice of child sex trafficking.  Shutting down these ads was akin to smashing an ant with a sledgehammer.  Not only have these AGs used a sledgehammer to ostensibly eliminate an ant problem, they have potentially done the unthinkable, which is drive these criminals further underground. 

Maybe the more practical solution would have been to find a way to work with Craigslist to flag and screen ads for underage girls in a manner that would lead to more busts like this.  Public/private partnerships between government and non-profits to blend capabilities and expand existing capacity to achieve specific, measurable outcomes are commonplace. In this case, the AGs could have partnered with Craigslist to develop a formal method to screen these ads, cross-check them with leads and tips from newspaper ads, etc., and then use that information to bust perpetrators.

Now, I may have missed something, but from the tone of the open letter, I didn’t get the impression that these AGs wanted to work with Craigslist, they just wanted Craigslist to take the ads down and that would magically solve the problem. 

Even in the wake of this move, as we debate it from all different angles, it doesn’t change the fact that there is and will continue to be a burgeoning market for underage sex trafficking.  People may not like it, but prostitution, and erotic services are here to stay.   

I’m a realist, and what I want to happen doesn’t always line up with the cold hard facts.  Instead of pushing this stuff underground, the AGs need to do all they can to work with outfits like Craigslist to crack down on perpetrators.  People are tired of politics as usual, and symbolic gestures that have no substance, we want measurable results.  Outcomes.  Stuff that can be replicated.  Not fluff.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. theobsidianfiles says:

    Excellent points! Keep up the great work.

    O.

    1. Thanks!

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