Religious leaders ask Village Voice Media to close web page used to traffic children
An open letter signed by 36 religious leaders in today’s New York Times has called on Village Voice Media to shut down a webpage reported to be used to traffic children for sex.
“As moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds,” said the letter to Jim Larkin, CEO and chair of Village Voice media, “we are united in calling on your publication to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com.” Arrests of adults selling minors for sex via Backpage.com have been reported in 14 states.
The ad was placed in the Times by Groundswell, the social action initiative of Ney York’s Auburn Seminary.
Signers of the display ad in the Times include National Council of Churches President, the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, and NCC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon.
“We share the opinion of the nation’s 51 Attorneys General that the best way to eradicate your company’s connection with the sex trafficking of minors is to shut down the Adult section of your Web site, as Craigslist did,” the leaders said.
“We know there is much more to be done to end the sex trafficking of minors beyond what we ask of you,” the leaders said. “Ending this practice for good requires a groundswell of people in our business, media, and religious communities joining together in partnership.”
“But we can do something right now to help these girls and boys,” the religious leaders told Larkin and members of the board of directors of Village Voice Media. “Please shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com immediately so that no minor is exploited through advertisements on your Web site.”
The estimated annual revenue from the Backpage adult section exceeds $22 million. Village Voice Media said earlier it has increased efforts to screen for ads featuring minors, but the religious leaders said they believe the efforts have been inadequate.