Village Voice Pimps
Village Voice Pimps
Overview Page on the Profiteers
Backpage.com is a classified advertising website owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, which once owned 13 alternative weeklies around the country including the Village Voice in New York from which it derives its name. For years each of these Village Voice Media alternative weeklies had an online site which was a portal to the ads on Backpage.com which covers 500 cities in the U.S. and several other countries. In late 2012, the Village Voice Media owners sold the "Village Voice" papers. This left the online classifieds site Backpage in control of shareholders Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin.
Aside from containing ads for cars, jobs and all sorts of consumer goods, the problem with Backpage.com is their “adult” ads section is a haven for sex-trafficking. In fact, 80 percent of all online sex-trafficking is done through Backpage.com.
On the site are placed prostitution ads under the guise of "escorts" or "body rubs" and other code words. To anyone reading the ads, it is perfectly clear that what they are selling is sex. If that weren't bad enough, Backpage.com has made it easy for pimps to place ads for underage girls who have been forced into sex-slavery through intimidation and threats of violence.
You may wonder why an American media company would be involved in allowing ads which are in fact selling human beings for sex. The answer is simple. Village Voice Media, its owners and employees are profiting from sex-trafficking to the tune of an estimated $31 million a year from allowing prostitution ads on their website.
Their hunger for profit at the expense of human suffering and degradation is such they the owners and Executives at Village Voice Media have refused to be decent corporate citizens in spite of the vast array of groups, agencies and individuals who have asked them to stop providing a platform for sex-trafficking.
They have done this in the face of a massive outpouring of public censure. For example:
The National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter in August 2011 to Backpage.com citing concern about human traffickers use of Backpage. The response was inadquate, prompting all US state Attorneys General to sign onto the letter.
The Washington state Governor signed a bill insisting sex ad sellers check ID Proof of a good-faith attempt to verify the age of the advertised person is considered a defense under the law. Village Voice Media has threatened to go to court over this law, rather than institute these ID checks, which might cut into their sex-trade profits.
Religious groups and others fear ads may facilitate child sex trafficking, but Village Voice papers have run articles saying the concerns are overstated. This prompted Groundwell, a social action group sponsored by the Auburn Theological Seminary, to initiate a petition on Change.org asking Village Voice Media to remove its adult ads section which was facitilating child sex-trafficking. Village Voice refused. The petition has garnered over 250,000 signatures at the date of this writing.
A group of United States Senators has written to Village Voice advertisers asking them to refuse to place ads with Village Voice Media publications to pressure them to stop allowing prostitution ads which enable sex-trafficking throgh their site.
Mayors from across the country have similarly written to the owners of VIlalge Voice Media asking them to require age verification in order to place ads on their adult section.
Thus far Village Voice Media has refused to do anything that they perceive would cut into the profits these prostitution ads are bringing in.
There is no reason why a website like Backpage.com and its owners should be treated any differently than other facilitators of sex-trafficking. Thus, they have been dubbed "Village Voice Pimps."
Thus we are publishing the information about this problem on this website and will working with other activists to continue educating others.