“The numbers are rising, in part because it has become frighteningly simple to order a child prostitute on the Internet. One merely needs to look at the classified ads on Backpage.com, the leading Web site for prostitution advertising in the United States according to the Advanced Interactive Media, AIM, Group,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said when the resolution was adopted by the Senate. “Just a few clicks on this site easily enables ‘johns’ to purchase children for sex. Law enforcement believes that the existence of Backpage encourages the recruitment of victims for sexual exploitation because it allows traffickers to operate out of sight from police patrols.”
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Kirk said that experts estimate that each year as many as 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States and cited cases where those prosecuted for such crimes have used Backpage.com to advertise.
“As news reports of pimps and traffickers using Backpage.com to advertise sexual services by minors continue to increase, we cannot leave our children defenseless,” Kirk said. “The profit-first mentality at Village Voice Media, which prioritizes the rights of pimps, not children, must end.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) co-sponsored the measure.
This article was updated on Jan. 2 to reflect that Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC.