Target: Ashley Judd
Goal: Spread awareness about the complex issue of sex trafficking websites and help to fund victims
A controversial website infamous for child sex trafficking is finally facing serious threat as the Minneapolis City Council recently joined forces with other cities in the country (and a group of teens who sued the online business) in order to shut it down for good. Backpage.com, owned by Village Voice Media, has been receiving negative publicity since April for providing an outlet for pimps to sell their prostitutes online. Many petitions were fashioned when the news came out, but most only address one simple aspect: shutting down the site. This fix-it solution does nothing to provide women and girls with alternative means of subsistence, and therefore a voice of influence must be called upon.
Ashley Judd is known for her opposition to sex trafficking, and she should be involved in a case that needs more than just a petition to end a website. One female sex worker claimed that bringing down the website would in no way mitigate the issue – in fact, it could make it worse. “No one has asked workers what would happen to them (or their families) if they couldn’t advertise there,” she said, illustrating the multi-faceted nature of the problem. It is too simple remove a website that seems wrong because it supports a practice that the privileged oppose. What should be considered above all else is that such sites allow sex workers to screen their clients beforehand, and its removal could be detrimental for many reasons. It could force trafficking victims to conduct services elsewhere, perhaps in locations where clients can be neither screened nor traced afterwards in cases of violence. Mostly, sex workers are either underprivileged women who use the internet because self-advertisement is expensive and dangerous, or they are young girls who are prostituted by their pimps. Many of these women and girls continue this practice because they have no other options. While Backpage.com is easy to despise for providing access to these services, the well-being of the sex workers must be first priority to best handle the situation.
Please ask Ashley Judd to raise awareness about the complexities of the site removal and to pour efforts into funding to provide alternative lifestyles for those trapped in this terrible situation. Ask her to help shut down Backpage.com, but also to locate sex workers from the site and advocate for basic needs that will allow them to escape their current situation. Too many do not understand how badly these victims need and deserve more help than they are currently receiving. Someone who has the power and influence to raise awareness needs to fight in this arena.
Dear Ashley Judd,
Thank you for everything you do to combat sex trafficking today! Due to the attention that Backpage.com has recently received and the likelihood that city councils and various organizations will shut down the site, I urge you to raise more awareness about this issue and to pour efforts into combatting difficult living situations for sex workers. As you know, many women and girls feel trapped by their situation and cannot find other means of subsistence. If this website is shut down, they may be forced to self-advertise in dangerous venues.
They need more than efforts to end a website; they need financial support. Please back the removal of the online business, but more so, fight for the well-being of sex workers who use the site for advertising. Use your influence to spread the truth about the complexity of this issue: the problem is not just trafficking websites, but it is the fact that these women and girls have no other options and little means to find them. If you fight to financially provide more options for victims of sex trafficking, then I will stand behind you!
[Your Name Here]