Polaris Statement on Backpage.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 10, 2017) – Polaris, a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, issued the following statement tonight as Backpage.com, a long-time facilitator of sex trafficking in the United States, shut down the “adult” section of its website. The move comes hours before a hearing scheduled by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, said:
“A monumental step in the fight against sex trafficking in America has been achieved now that Backpage.com has shuttered the adult escort section of its website. While long overdue, we strongly hope this is a permanent action. We applaud the many leaders who have worked towards this moment for years—from the survivor leaders and families who spoke out to share their stories and expertise, to the many determined lawyers, State Attorneys General, advocates, other law enforcement officials, and Members of Congress who have all shined a spotlight on how traffickers use Backpage to place ads and attract customers for commercial sex acts involving trafficking victims. From an anti-trafficking lens, the presence of Backpage's adult escort section was far more part of the problem than it ever was part of the solution.
“For over five years, Polaris has raised serious concerns about how sex trafficking victims were being advertised online on Backpage. We have served victims sold on Backpage in our programs who told us their stories, and we received nearly 2,000 reports of likely sex trafficking cases involving Backpage through operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the U.S. This action taken by Backpage will neither eradicate the sex trafficking industry nor will it stop other websites from potentially popping up to try and play a similar role, but Backpage's adult escort section shutting down nationwide will help prevent the continued exploitation of countless more victims. It will make it harder for traffickers and sex buyers to profit from, control, and exploit adults and children who are in the sex trade against their will. This action is certainly a positive step forward for efforts to fight human trafficking in the U.S."