The Backpage classified section of The Village Voice has long been used to advertise illegal services, whether it be pot sales or prostitution. I am of at least two minds concerning sex work by willing adults, but think it should certainly be decriminalized, possibly even made legal. If a pimp is abusive, he/she should be arrested and charged with assault, and if we started treating prostitutes like human beings, perhaps that would happen more often regardless of the law.
However, on one thing I am perfectly clear: The trafficking of minors is not only illegal, it is contemptible, an abomination, beyond reprehensible. And I honestly don’t care what the age of consent is in any given state, and am not interested in the splitting of hairs concerning the vocabulary surrounding such trafficking. “Teenage prostitution,” unless conducted by an 18 or 19 year old of his or her own free will, doesn’t exist — there is only teen rape, and those who profit from it. And some time ago, the world was made aware that Backpage is not only a source for bongs, coke, and BDSM professionals — it’s also a good source for the bodies of children.
This horrifying fact came up with particular fury surrounding last year’s Super Bowl, as part of the larger ugly fact that whatever city hosts the Super Bowl tends to also unwittingly host a Super Bowl of sex trafficking on the weekend of the game.
Village Voice Media has made a lot of noise about the fact that it’s concerned about the trafficking of minors through its site, but when called on in public (and – horrors! through a PR firm! Because no one ever uses PR firms unless their motives are nefarious!) by 51 US Attorneys General and 36 members of the clergy to act with greater urgency and close down the Adult Services classifieds that serve as the cover for the sale of children’s bodies — it lashed back: