Backpage and the New Form of Slavery

Despite Tony Ortega’s best efforts at defending Backpage, no one (not even Ortega) can make an argument that sex trafficking is positive.

We often get asked here on the blog about sex trafficking and exactly how Backpage and its defenders like Tony Ortega sought to profit of this despicable practice. Today we thought it might be beneficial to step back and more carefully define the charges we here, (not to mention the Federal government) put to the people behind the Backpage sex ring.

Sex trafficking is a worldwide epidemic with millions of women and girls sold into sexual slavery every year. At this moment, across the globe, there are 40-42 million people trapped in some form of coerced prostitution. Ninety-eight percent are women and girls. There are 1-2 million in the United States alone.

Increasingly of people are becoming more aware of how prostitution and other avenues such as Backpage-advertised ‘escorts’ are really nothing more than forms of sex trafficking and/or sexual exploitation. While similar, it’s important to understand the difference between sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Sex trafficking is defined as “the illegal business of recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person and especially a minor for the purpose of sex.” According to Polaris, sex trafficking is “the form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.” Sex trafficking involves three types of people: pimps/traffickers, johns/sex buyers, and trafficked victims or prostituted women.

Sexual exploitation is much broader: anything of value (drugs, money, food, shelter, rent, higher status in a gang or group) is given to a person in exchange for sexual activity.

The well-known anti-trafficking organization, Exodus Cry, responsible for the groundbreaking documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, which exposed the global slave trade and the integral role Backpage played in it. This documentary reveals the truth about prostitution thanks to the testimony of countless survivors of the Backpage sex trade.

What is important to remember is how girls in these situations have had their identities stripped and have been reduced to sexual slaves.

Prostitution is not a career. It is not the world’s oldest “profession.” It is, in fact, the world’s oldest “oppression.”

Men like Tony Ortega who would stand up to defend Backpage through its oppressive history of both outright exploitation and the wholesale sex-trafficking of women and girls goes beyond unconscionable. It is nothing less than advocating for a new form of slavery.

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