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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The controversy around backpage ads...

Below is a link to an article written by Raymond Bechard, June 24, 2011:

Has The Hartford Advocate Stopped Human Trafficking Advertising? "Not Yet."

Ok, I get it. Dennis Paris was guilty of trafficking minors on the Berlin Turnpike, claiming that he had an "escort business." Dennis would advertise in The Hartford Advocate's Back Room section (yes, we have all seen it...who doesn't check out The Advocate's fun section from time to time? C'mon now). Thankfully, Dennis is serving 30 years in federal prison. Ok wait...the story doesn't end yet. The point of the article is to get readers all riled up at the fact that The Advocate continues to print their Back Room section (I'm reading it right now...oooh..All Natural 40DDD Voluptuous, Mature Blond. In-calls only!). *GASP* How could The Advocate continue to do such a thing!? Ok, so are you riled up and angry yet, ready to call The Advocate???

I hope not. If you are, you've missed the point. Yes, it's true that Dennis Paris used The Back Room in order to traffick minors, and this is disgusting. However, the majority of the advertisements in the Back Room are placed by consenting adult sex workers. If we are to shut down The Back Room, we may as well shut down the millions of porn sites on the internet, all because of the child porn sites that exist. I have also read articles on this same topic that discuss the dangers of prostitution, the exploitation of women. Wait a second....I thought that the sex trafficking of minors was the concern....hmmmm. So, are these folks that are against the trafficking of minors also against prostitution? Are they aware that these are different issues, and that most of the women who put ads in The Advocate are regular ol' adult sex workers? Does anybody care about their rights?

So, that brings us to my next point. If The Back Room (and other backpage ads) are shut down, how will this affect sex workers?

This article brings up some great points:

Making Sex Workers Visible in the Village Voice Media Ad Controversy

“Efforts to close down third-party advertisers are a shortsighted and misguided tactic to address trafficking,” said the New York City branch of the grassroots Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), in correspondence with In These Times. Blanket crackdowns endanger sex workers by forcing them “further underground,” potentially pushing vulnerable people away from social services and other initiatives that could alleviate the social and economic oppression often underpinning sexual coercion."

SWOP-NYC argues:
"Sex work is real work, which means sex workers have the basic labor rights we all expect, including a work environment free of violence and exploitation. Targeting companies that work with people in commercial sex will only lead to more shrouded interactions. This marginalization and isolation increases violence, HIV/STI transmission and stigmatization, hinders access to basic services, and promotes a loss of autonomy over the conditions in which people engage in the industry. There is so much we can do to prevent trafficking and support people who do want to move out of the sex industry, and these tactics only pull valuable resources from those strategies.
The voice commonly missing from the media coverage on the Village Voice and Craigslist is that of sex workers. It has become too easy to forget that there are real people involved with sex work with real human and labor rights."

It's always important to look at both sides of every story. Just sayin'. Now back to browsing The Back Room....

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