Today, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a statement calling on Backpage.com to end its facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution by eliminating its adult services section. Blumenthal's statement follows recent reports that Village Voice -- the previous owner of Backpage.com -- is being sold along with all of its affiliated free arts weeklies. The sale excludes Backpage.com.
"Splitting Village Voice from Backpage.com gives its owners a clear opportunity to reform the site's abusive business model profiting from promoting illegal sex trade and human trafficking. As the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising, Backpage.com can significantly curtail this appalling industry by shutting down a major source of advertising for these practices -- the adult services section of the website," said Blumenthal who co-chairs the Senate Human Trafficking Caucus with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). "I call on them to eliminate the adult services section and take other steps necessary to stop promoting sex trafficking and providing an avenue for violence against women and children. Advertisers should not use Backpage.com until it reforms. The owners say they want Backpage.com to be the 'centerpiece of a new online classified advertising company with business worldwide.' As a first step they should make the site a centerpiece for stopping the horrific exploitation of women and children."
Blumenthal has previously called on Backpage.com to end its facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution. In March, Blumenthal led a bipartisan group of 19 senators in writing a letter to Village Voice that asked the company to "create a significant impact on this appalling industry by shutting off a major source of advertising for these practices -- the adult services section of the website."