Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today, joined by 17 other state attorneys general, is calling on craigslist to immediately remove the Adult Services portion of the site due to continued rampant prostitution advertisements and mounting public outrage.
The multi-state letter, to craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark, contends that craigslist cannot -- or will not -- adequately screen these ads, so it should stop accepting them altogether and shut down the Adult Services section.
“Craigslist clearly lacks the wherewithal -- or will -- to fight flagrant prostitution ads that persist on its site,” Blumenthal said. “Prostitution is a booming business on craigslist, perhaps more than ever before.
“We understand that prostitution is profitable -- but its human toll is intolerable, and craigslist should cease being an enabler,” Blumenthal said. “Despite its much-touted ‘manual review’ of Adult Services, craigslist has failed to block blatant prostitution ads.”
“The increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution -- including ads trafficking children -- are rampant on it,” Blumenthal said in the letter. “In our view, the company should take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads.
“We recognize that craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads. No amount of money can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist.”
Even following its 2008 public pledge to attorneys general and the public that it would better police its own site, craigslist remains a hot spot for blatant prostitution ads.
In July 2010, two girls who said that they were trafficked for sex through craigslist wrote an “open letter” to craigslist officials, pleading for the elimination of the Adult Services section. The girls’ poignant account told a horrific story of brutalization and assault suffered not just by them, but also by untold numbers of other children, the attorneys general said.
The attorneys general call recent blog posts and public statements from Buckmaster and Newmark, including a CNN interview, “deeply troubling” because they seem to imply that victims, law enforcement officials and children’s advocates are at least partially to blame for these incidents due to their failure to provide craigslist with police reports, ad copy or links documenting these heinous crimes.
The attorneys general said this position fails to acknowledge that craigslist is the only party positioned to stop these ads before they are published. While the perpetrators may eventually be apprehended and brought to justice, the victims -- assuming they survive -- will carry the scars for life, the attorneys general said.
States joining Blumenthal’s letter include: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.