Tuesday, September 14, 2010

100 Experts in Letter to Craigslist: Complete the Job, Now

MORE (craigslist current issue)

sorry... took me longer than I thought, again...

as already said, I hope the group succeeds and am glad to post the press release on my blog; will also post my take on what I see as the current issues, in a separate entry...D.


For Immediate Release

Andrea Austin

Craigslist Must Complete the Job

In Advance of Congressional Hearing Where Craigslist Will Testify,
100 Experts Send Letter to Craigslist Insisting It Close Erotic Sections Worldwide

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2010—On the eve of a Congressional hearing on the sex trafficking of children, 100 leading anti-trafficking experts and organizations sent a letter to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster calling for the immediate, permanent and complete removal of all Craigslist Adult and Erotic Services sections, worldwide. While these sections were closed in the United States, they remain open in more than 250 cities around the world.

Tomorrow, September 15, 2010, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hear testimony from law enforcement, advocacy groups, and Members of Congress who will speak on child sex trafficking in general and Craigslist’s continuing role as a platform that enables it. William Powell, Director of Customer Service and Law Enforcement Relations for Craigslist, and Elizabeth McDougall, Craigslist’s legal counsel, are scheduled to testify at the hearing.

Here are some highlights from the letter:

We thank you for voluntarily closing the Adult Services section of Craigslist in the United States. While this is a positive step, Craigslist is a global company, and it has a global responsibility. More than 250 Craigslist sites exist around the world that still feature “Erotic” sections where trafficked children and women are being sold for sex.

That you have not made the same improvements globally across your site reveals a disingenuous and inconsistent response on your part. Moreover, the few helpful actions you have taken do not measure up to the amount of daily harm being facilitated by Craigslist through the thousands of Erotic Services ads around the world each day.

The anti-trafficking field is standing with solidarity and unity, and collectively asking you to take down all the Adult and Erotic sections worldwide, completely and permanently.

The letter comes as international law enforcement officials have begun calling on Craigslist to follow through on its commitment to end the sexual trafficking of children and women. Last week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police called on Craigslist to close the section in Canada: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20100907/rcmp-pushes-craigslist-100907/.

The full text of the letter and the list of signatories are below.

September 14, 2010
Sent via facsimile

Jim Buckmaster, CEO
Craig Newmark, Founder
Craigslist, Inc.
1381 9th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122

Dear Craig Newmark & Jim Buckmaster,

The experts in the anti-trafficking field who have signed this letter stand together asking you to shut down all the Adult and Erotic Services sections of your website around the world.

We all know that plenty of activity has preceded this letter. There have been meetings, news articles, research studies, protests, letters from survivors, blogs, boycotts, earnings estimates, lawsuits, subpoenas, and plenty of other actions. The voices of survivors, advocates, service providers, local law enforcement, members of Congress, and State Attorneys General have all implored you to do more to fight the sex trafficking of women and girls that occurs on your site.

We thank you for voluntarily closing the Adult Services section of Craigslist in the United States. While this is a positive step, Craigslist is a global company, and it has a global responsibility. More than 250 Craigslist sites exist around the world that still feature “Erotic” sections where trafficked children and women are being sold for sex through your website.

Of particular concern is your repeated statement that anti-trafficking “experts” are supportive of your approach. For example, in one of Jim Buckmaster’s online responses on the Huffington Post, he states, “To the contrary, we are convinced Craigslist is a vital part of the solution to this age-old scourge. We've been told as much by experts on the front lines of this fight…”

There are some who may want you to keep the Erotic Services sections going outside the United States for various reasons. Sex traffickers surely want you to keep the sections going because it helps them make high profits by advertising women and children to large audiences of paying customers. “Johns” who pay for commercial sex want you to keep the section because your site makes it easy and less risky for them to buy women and girls simply by surfing the Internet and perusing the photos on various ads. There may even be some law enforcement officials who see some value in placing decoy ads on your site, or using Craigslist ads as evidence in an investigation. However, we highly doubt that on balance, law enforcement would condone a venue that is a platform for the sex trafficking of women and children. The recent letter signed by 17 State Attorneys General strongly suggests that many law enforcement officials believe the best solution is to close the section, as you have done in the United States.

The signers of this letter are the experts on the issue of human trafficking. Many of us work on the front lines, directly with victims on a daily basis. Some of us are survivors of human trafficking.

With this letter, we are telling you that on the whole, Craigslist’s Adult and Erotic Services sections continue to be more part of the problem than part of the solution.

On the day that Craigslist shut down its Adult Services section in the United States, were the pimps and johns who depend on the site to advance the sex trade happy or upset? The answer to this question should help guide your path forward as you address the remaining “Erotic” sections around the world.

We acknowledge that there are some things that Craigslist has done that are part of the solution. Offering to meet with law enforcement and non-profits is a good thing. The decision to start screening the Adults Services ads was a step forward. Eliminating the blatant nudity that persisted in past years in the United States’ Erotic section was also a step forward. Posting national hotlines, and cooperating with law enforcement when cases are found is useful and laudable. As stated above, voluntarily shutting down the Adult Services section in the United States is also a step in the right direction. Despite such steps forward, these efforts are not enough.

We are deeply concerned that you have not yet taken down the Erotic Services sections across the globe. We are also concerned that it seems that you are not applying the screening techniques that were used in the United States to all the other Erotic Services sections worldwide. In changing the name of the Adult Services section from "Erotic" to "Adult" in the United States, why did you not implement this change globally across your entire site? Furthermore, for the “Adult Services” pages in the United States, there was a “Warning & Disclaimer” page that discusses human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This disclaimer page is also present for the “Erotic” sections in Canada. Yet, as of the date of this letter, there is no “Warning & Disclaimer” page for the other international “Erotic” pages. Nudity is also still present in the photos associated with some “Erotic” ads in the international pages. The reality that you have not made the same improvements globally across your site reveals a disingenuous and inconsistent response on your part. Moreover, the few helpful actions you have taken do not measure up to the amount of daily harm being facilitated by Craigslist through the thousands of Erotic Services ads around the world each day.

In a recent letter, Jim Buckmaster stated that human trafficking ads are “quite rare” on Craigslist. Based on our experience and collective knowledge, we know that the presence of human traffickers on your site is more frequent than you realize. Traffickers have figured out ways to post pictures of clothed women and children that can get past your screeners. The anti-trafficking field has yet to be presented with a meaningful solution of how you intend to guarantee that no children are being sexually exploited on your site. As a result, we ask that you take down the Adult or Erotic sections, wherever they appear on Craigslist.

Another important reality for you to realize is that law enforcement does not currently have the resources to review and conduct an investigation of every single Adult or Erotic Services ad on your site. The sheer volume of ads outpaces law enforcement's ability to respond to each one. Consequently, maintaining the Erotic Services sections in other countries enables the majority of Erotic ads to thrive without a law enforcement deterrent. Cooperating with law enforcement when a rare case is brought is a short-term solution, not reflective of an overall systemic analysis of the crime problem that you are enabling.

You have asserted that removing the Adult or Erotic Services sections will not entirely eliminate the presence of sex ads on your site. This may be true, but eliminating the centralized thoroughfares of each designated "Erotic Services" section seriously disrupts pimps and johns who buy and sell women and children on Craigslist. Closing this section of Craigslist across the globe will send a clear signal to sexual predators that you will not stand for them using the site to sexually exploit children and women.

You argue that there are other online sites that advertise sex ads. Yes, the signers of this letter are aware of other sites with adult ads, and we are working to address those sites as well. But frankly, the user volume and name recognition of those sites pales in comparison to yours. They are not a household name like Craigslist.

We collectively feel that if you are seriously committed to ending the site’s use as a platform for sex trafficking of women and children, you will apply the same approach you recently took in the United States and immediately close the remaining Erotic sections around the world.

If you continue to keep the Erotic sections outside of the United States, we ask that you at least be honest and more specific about the reasons why you are keeping them. After receiving this letter, please do not claim that it is because anti-trafficking “experts” agree with you and wholly support your approach.

In closing, we note that in one of Jim Buckmaster’s recent letters, he asked the question: “Would it not be a step backward to confine adult ads to venues that don't cooperate with law enforcement, that don't care what advocacy groups and nonprofits have to say?”

This statement seems to indicate that Craigslist does care what advocacy groups and nonprofits have to say, more than other venues. If this is true, then you must care about this letter. Please hear what we have to say, read the signers of this letter, and recognize that the anti-trafficking field is standing with solidarity and unity, and collectively asking you to take down all the Adult and Erotic sections worldwide, completely and permanently.


Bradley Myles
Executive Director & CEO
Polaris Project

Malika Saada Saar
Executive Director & Founder
The Rebecca Project for Human Rights

Eliza Reock
Executive Director
Harold & Kayrita Anderson Family Foundation

Carol Smolenski
Executive Director & Co-Founder

Linda Smith (U.S. Congress 1994-98)
Founder & President
Shared Hope International

Kaffie McCullough
Campaign Director
A Future. Not A Past.

Jennifer & Peter Buffett
NoVo Foundation

Lisa L. Thompson
Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking
The Salvation Army – National Headquarters, USA

Suzanne Koepplinger
Executive Director
Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC)

Lee Rope-Batker
President & Chief Executive Officer
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Vednita Carter
Executive Director & Founder
Breaking Free

Andrea Powell
Executive Director & Co-Founder

Norma Ramos, Esq.
Executive Director
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)

Kevin Bales
President & Co-founder
Free the Slaves

Rachel Lloyd
Founder & Executive Director
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS)

Laura J. Lederer
Global Centurion

William Livermore
Executive Director
Somaly Mam Foundation

Maria A. Trujillo
Executive Director
Houston Rescue & Restore Coalition

Sonia Ossorio
Executive Director
National Organization for Women, New York City Chapter (NOW-NYC)

Amb. Mark P. Lagon
International Relations Chair
Georgetown University MSFS Program

Tina Frundt
Executive Director & Founder
Courtney’s House

Michele Garnett McKenzie
Director of Advocacy
The Advocates for Human Rights

Rachel Durchslag
Executive Director
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)

Marisa Ugarte
Executive Director
Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC)

Lisa Goldblatt Grace
Program Director
My Life, My Choice

Frank Massolini
The Salvation Army

Laura Penny
Executive Director
Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona

Frank N. Barnaba
Founder & President
The Barnaba Institute

Debi M. Harris
Chief Executive Officer
Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade

Carol B. Penick
Executive Director
Women’s Fund of Mississippi

Dorchen A. Leidholdt
Director, Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services
Sanctuary for Families

Elaine Maly
Executive Director
Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee

Central Ohio Rescue & Restore Coalition

Cassondra Johnson Blackbird
Executive Director
Sexual Assault Program of Beltrami, Cass & Hubbard Counties

Chris Newlin
Executive Director
National Children’s Advocacy Center

Heather Arnet
Chief Executive Officer
Women & Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania

Donna M. Hughes
Professor & Carlson Endowed Chair
Women’s Studies Program
University of Rhode Island

Sharon Simpson-Joseph
Executive Director
Juvenile Justice Fund

Marissa Castellanos
Human Trafficking Project Manager
Catholic Charities of Louisville

Michelle Miller
Executive Director
Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity (REED)

Ronna L. Bright
Project Coordinator
Central Valley Against Human Trafficking & Central Valley Freedom Coalition

Tania DoCarmo
Director & Vice President
Chab Dai USA

Helen Sworn
Director & Founder
Chab Dai Coalition

Kristy Childs
Executive Director & Founder
Veronica’s Voice

Mark & Keisha Hoerner
Ethical Living, Inc.

Sara K. Gould
President & CEO
Ms. Foundation for Women

Diana Mao
NOMI Network

Melanie Shapiro
Citizens Against Trafficking

Mary Frances Bowley
Wellspring Living, Inc.

Jennifer Mitchell
Assistant Director PROMISE Program
The Salvation Army

Anne Lee
President & CEO
Darkness to Light

Daria Mueller
Policy Specialist
Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART) of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Glenda L. McClendon
Office Manager
PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

Barbara Mosacchio
Chief Executive Officer
Atlanta Women’s Foundation

Gordon Heller
Chair, Steering Committee
Dayton Southeast Weed & Seed Project

Dr. Daniel Bercu
Doctors at War on Trafficking in Persons

Colette Bercu
Free for Life International

Carol Arthur
Executive Director
Domestic Abuse Project

Marcia Coné
Executive Director
Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

Kara Fagan
The Women’s Fund of Great Chattanooga

Nicola Goren
Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Charlotte Boatwright
Chattanooga Domestic Violence Coalition

Emily Fitchpatrick
Founder & President
On Eagles Wings Ministries & The Hope House

Pam Strickland
Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now

Victor Vieth
National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC)

Madeliene H. Dobbins
Director & Chief Administrative Officer
Delta Research & Educational Foundation

Deborah Sigmund
Founder & Director
Innocents at Risk

Benjamin Nolot
Exodus Cry

Sidney Ford
Director & Founder
You Are Never Alone (YANA)

Jeff Bauer
Director Public Policy & Civic Engagement
The Family Partnership

Anna Rodriguez
Executive Director & Founder
Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Melissa Gifford
Executive Director & DVTF Team Coordinator
Four Points, Inc.

Kathryn Xian
Non-Executive Director & Founder
Girl Fest Hawaii

Stephanie Davis
Executive Director
Georgia Women for Change, Inc.

Stacia Freeman
Executive Director
The Home Foundation

Erik Voss
Executive Director
The International Center of Atlanta

Sandra J. Robinson
Program Coordinator
Western Kentucky Refugee Mutual Assistance
The International Center of Bowling & Owensboro

Danelle Ragoonanan-Storph
Project Rescue & Assist New Americans
International Institute of Connecticut, Inc.

Kathy Maskell
US Prevention Advisor

End Internet Trafficking Coalition

Marie Morin
Eastern Regional Director
Long Island Task Force

The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition

Donna Dunn
Executive Director
Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA)

Cyndi Cook
Executive Director
Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women

Claudia Barlow
Chair of the Board

Jeannette Pai-Espinosa
The National Crittenton Foundation

Veronica Lamb
Outreach Director
Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery

Sandra L. Hollett
Chief Executive Officer
Partnership for Families, Children & Adults

Dianne Post
Phoenix Women Take Back the Night

Kristyn Komarnicki
PRISM Magazine
Evangelicals for Social Action

Candice Harshner
Executive Director
Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA)

Donna Sabella
Project Phoenix

Trisha Smouse
Anti-Human Trafficking Program Manager
The Salvation Army of Central Ohio

Amy L. Hartman
Diaconal Minister & National Director
Cherish Our Children

Kathie Logan
Program Manager
Sexual Assault Center of NWGA

8th Day Center for Justice

Cordelia Anderson
Sexual Health & Responsibility Program (SHARP)

Renee Morrison
Chairman & Founder
In My Backyard Foundation

Gregory Marx
In My Backyard Foundation

Adeyemi Oshodi
Director of Anti-Trafficking Programs
World Hope International (WHI)

Ann Buwulda
Jubilee Campaign USA

Serena Connelly
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas

Holy Union Sisters

Central Dallas Ministries

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