Coalition Wants Village Voice to Stop Sex Trafficking Ads
A coalition of 53 leading anti-trafficking experts and organizations have sent a letter to Village Voice Media demanding the immediate and permanent removal of the Adult section of its subsidiary’s Web site Backpage.com where advertisements placed by others have resulted in the sex trafficking of women and girls.
The coalition’s call today, on the United Nations’ International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, is seen as an action that would immediately address and deter future trafficking by individuals that utilize internet-based advertising as part of their activity. The coalition targeted the UN’s observance day for comment because of its view that this sex trafficking is considered by many to be the symbolic equivalent of slavery.
The letter, which is being sponsored by FAIR Girls, an advocacy organization which works to prevent the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education, comes on the heels of similar appeals by 36 prominent clergy and 51 Attorneys General.
Village Voice asserted in a September letter to the nation’s Attorneys General – including Hawaii Attorney General David Louie – that it takes “effective measures to track and eliminate illegal activity by third parties using the adult services sections of its Web site,” noting that it has implemented numerous safeguards and devoted significant resources to this effort. The coalition recognizes and applauds the effort, however, disputes any claim of acceptable progress. They contend that Village Voice’s efforts “fall far short of what is needed to eliminate the use of [Backpage.com] by others to exploit women and minors,” and cite the indictments in Brooklyn and Memphisas recent examples.
In its letter to the Attorneys General, Backpage.com states that it is dedicated to “eradicating the scourge of child trafficking as quickly and effectively as possible.” Yet when faced with criticism that it is not doing enough to prevent this phenomenon, Village Voice responds by saying that there is an “the underage-prostitution panic.” Village Voices also cites on its Web site a law enforcement figure of 8,263 arrests in the U.S. for child prostitution in the last decade. Advocates believe this number is a small fraction of the reality; nevertheless, the number in and of itself, is still unacceptable. The coalition maintains that as long as Backpage.com allows individuals to use its site to post “service” ads, there is no way to guarantee that women and girls will not be subjects of sex trafficking.
“Web sites such as Backpage.com that accept advertisements allow individuals who seek to sexually exploit women and minors to hide the identities of their victims, making prevention and rescue nearly impossible,” said Powell. “The internet is not a separate cyber world where the laws against buying and selling of women and girl should not apply. If Village Voice is really committed to ending trafficking, it needs to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com.” View the coalition’s letter to Village Voice HERE.
Submitted by Fair Girls
Hawaii Democrats and Republicans Want Better Visa Process for Asian, Canadian Visitors
Former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, launched her bid for U.S. Senate a few weeks ago with a pledge to improve tourism in America. She criticized the difficult visa application and approval process that Chinese and Canadian visitors must go through as barriers to tourism in Hawaii and throughout the country.
Just days later, Hawaii’s current Democratic U.S. Senators, Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, introduced the APEC Business Travel Act of 2011. The legislation passed Congress on November 4 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama while he was in Hawaii for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. The law will provide 19 participating countries access to expedited visa interviews and fast track immigration lanes.
Lingle congratulated the Senators and encouraged them to support Senate Bill 1746, which would expedite visas for both Chinese and Canadian visitors.
Now Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, D-HI, cosponsored H.R. 3039, the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act, which she says streamlines visa processing without compromising national security.
“Travel and tourism, as an industry sector, stands as one of America’s only balance-of-trade surpluses, and is the backbone of Hawaii’s economy,” Hanabusa said. “With our worldwide reputation as a travel destination, we need to remove barriers to travel.”
“America competes in worldwide markets,” continued Hanabusa. “Modern business moves fast. Asking business travelers to wait thirty to ninety days for a visa is tantamount to slamming our doors to foreign business.”
According to a statement from Hanabusa’s office, the Welcoming Business Travelers and Tourists to America Act requires the Secretary of State to hire more foreign service officers so visas are processed within 12 days, it directs the Secretary of State to launch a two-year pilot program where visa applicants are interviewed via video conferencing; and it modifies agreements with countries to increase visa validity periods.
Former Congressman Charles Djou, a Republican who is challenging Hanabusa in the 2012 election, also has suggested such reforms.
Charles Memminger: Poking Fun at Government Warnings
Charles Memminger, author and Hawaii Reporter’s humor columnist wrote a column this week poking fun at laws that would require gross photos to be posted on cigarette packs as warnings.
He questions now that “gross photos of Cancerous Lungs and Dead Dudes will Decorate Cigarette Packs”, what’s next?
CLICK HERE for the full column.