Photo: Vivian Giang – Business Insider
A group of demonstrators armed with posters and pink umbrellas gathered outside the Village Voice headquarters in lower Manhattan on Wednesday night to protest against sex ads featured on the Voice’s backpage.com.The group included around 50 people chanting and marching to the beat of drums played by a few members in the middle of the circle.
“We are demonstrating against backstage.com for their facilitation of sex trafficking of women and children,” said Kim Sykes, an actress and supporter of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
Sykes also told us that the Voice has been approached by 51 Attorneys General requesting the weekly to cease its publication of backpage.com’s adult services section.
“They make $33.7 million a year on sex trafficking ads alone,” she added. “Maybe that’s why they don’t want to stop and take it down because they’re making a lot of money off of a human rights abuse and off of the sale of women and children on the internet.”
R&B singer Alicia Keys recently tweeted her support of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women: “What if these were your daughters? SO CRAZY! Please stand up with CATW against sex trafficking on Nov 16 in NYC.”
A Village Voice memo distributed to staffers said:
You should also understand that Village Voice Media is the industry leader in policing our site to keep underage kids out of adult classifieds. In their announcement of the protest, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women stated that there have been 50 cases of trafficking identified by law enforcement in the last three years. What CATW neglected to mention is that in the period of time Backpage.com ran nearly 100 million classified ads, of which approximately 14 million were adult. We can only hope that CATW will respect the First Amendment rights of the millions who use Backpage.com
This isn’t the first time the Voice has made headlines connected to sex trafficking news. In June, the weekly discredited actor Ashton Kutcher’s children trafficking campaign “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” by publishing a cover story titled “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight” criticising Kutcher’s facts and statistics:
In April, Kutcher went on Piers Morgan to claim that there are “between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today.” But when the Voice dug into the numbers, it found no such thing. In fact, according to police data from the country’s 37 biggest cities, the average number of arrests for juvenile prostitution is a fraction of that: 827 per year.
Kutcher and the Voice soon waged a Twitter war with Kutcher posting: “Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me… How much $ did your “escorts” in your classifieds on backpage make last year?”
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