Corporate profit over ethical practices. Cowardice versus courage. Backpage.com is brought out from the shadows and we now learn just what this business is – a vehicle for human trafficking. Everything was laid out in the United States Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee Investigation and Hearing:
There is no denying that pimps have long been using online sites such as this one to advertise their property, their human property. The key point is that such businesses have been unwilling to shut these pimps down. That type of advertising makes up a huge portion of their business and I think it has become clear that Backpage.com doesn’t mind money that flows from criminal exchanges.
Backpage.com attended this hearing but it was evident they were not interested in participating. It was also predictable that Backpage.com’s CEO Carl Ferrer, Andrew Padilla COO, former owners James Larkin and Michael Lacey along with their Attorney Elizabeth McDougall would all hide like cowards behind the First and Fifth Amendments. I found it a little funny that as each question was asked, they all had to look down at a script to invoke their rights. After saying it a few times you would think they would know the statement by memory.
After their pitiful appearance this panel was invited to stay in order to hear from the second panel of witnesses – parents of children who have been trafficked and advertised on their pages. The entire Backpage.com gang left like only cowards do.
I’m not sure how long the video is available to the public but if it is still available…
I implore you to listen to Nacole, the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was a victim of trafficking, sold on backpage.com and forever changed by her experience. Listen to each of these parents and know that they are like all of us. They are trying to find a way to stop businesses like Backpage.com from profiting from crime and exploiting children. They are shocked by the way the Internet has facilitated the selling of human beings and in particular children. The isolation each family feels in their fight to find their loved one, navigate the systems and access help afterwards is understood as they speak. These are the reasons why we need to continue a discussion on how we can help.
I also encourage you to listen to this whole video, as long as it is, because there are very few opportunities to see all of these people in the same room addressing such an important issue. These people may be in the United States but as I sit here in Canada and you sit where you sit we are all impacted by this.
We are not immune. Access to your children is possible and if you listen towards the end of this video you will hear from the parents about the need for prevention and education. Resources are required and there has to be a fundamental shift in our belief that this is happening to “other people.”
We might naively believe that corporations will do the right thing if the public is made aware. We might even believe that there are lines a corporation would not cross but all too often now we see very powerful people’s dirty secrets being revealed and still they fight to suppress it. They try to deny or hide not because they are fearful or even remorseful but simply because there is too much money at stake.
I guess as consumers we have some influence but what else do you think needs to be done in order to hold a company like Backpage.com responsible and help victims of human trafficking?