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Children for Sale on Craigslist

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I’m sure most of us are familiar with Craigslist, the online Web community where people post job opportunities, items for sale, and find activity partners. Over the past years, Craigslist has grown by leaps and bounds and now has websites representing over 300 U.S. cities. However, despite its millions of users and various social benefits, there’s a dark side of Craigslist that most users don’t see. In the “Erotic” section, human traffickers have found Craigslist to be one of the most efficient, effective, and free ways to post children and women for sale.

This happens in the United States every day, as well as in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Katherine Chon, Executive Director of the Polaris Project, wrote the following on Not For Sale, the campaign to end slavery in our lifetime:

In one recent case, two Chicago women were charged for selling girls as young as 14 years old on Craigslist. The girls were forced to have sex with 10-12 men per day, and the traffickers made tens of thousands of dollars. A Boston man and his niece were charged with plotting a child trafficking operation with teenagers as young as 13 by selling them on Craigslist to predators from Massachusetts to New York. These cases are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, law enforcement efforts to fight trafficking nationwide are consistently reporting a spike in online Craigslist ads, and how sex trafficking has “moved online” lately.

The Craigslist for Washington, DC is one of the most active, with an average of 500 sexually oriented ads per day. As Chon points put:

A significant percentage of these ads on Craigslist do not advertise solely “legal escort services” as Craigslist may like to believe. Instead, a considerable percentage of the ads are a thinly veiled guise for one of the many faces of human trafficking that exists here in the United States. Although Craigslist may convince itself that it has created a beneficial online venue for advertising legal escorts, in effect, what it has done is create a fertile ground for traffickers to further their trade in human misery.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that slavery is a thing of the past, part of the terrible history of the formation of the United States or something that we can read about in our history books and shake our head with sorrow and regret. Slavery is alive and well today. Twenty-seven million people are currently enslaved.

You are not for sale. I am not for sale. No one should be for sale. Become a modern day abolitionist. Join the fight against slavery.

To find out what you can do, go to the Not For Sale website. You can download Not For Sale, an Abolitionist’s Guide and subscribe to The Underground free online magazine. You can support their efforts financially by donating directly or by buying from the Freedom Store.

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About Shelley Seale

  • Anonymous

    This is a late response, but it makes me feel awful that not enough people know about this.

  • john
  • Shocking news reports like this appear frequently on the web. As I read, I am consistently left to wonder “Where are the police?” It’s like we are all watching a heinous crime that the police periodically dabble in stopping. Is this because the police are overwhelmed with crimes they consider more serious than modern day sex slavery? Is it because the victims are powerless to complain to the mayor? Is it because they have been bought off? Is it because they are clients of the traffickers? Is it all of the above? At any rate, the solutions to the problem will have to include the development of a people who will not tolerate government indifference or sluggishness. Congratulations on your concept that we need modern day abolitionists!

  • ron

    Wow, Thank you Craigs List and all attorney generals for wiping prostitution off our planet. Great job! Maybe you could’ve done some police work and busted the idiots who put up the ads. Do some stings, do them daily. but no…. have them find another to ply their trade instead of using an easy way to catch them

  • Shock_Therapy

    cl didn’t invent, nor did it enable trafficking.

    20+ years ago, when i was a kid, my mother used to drill it into my head to never go anywhere alone because girls like me disappeared and were sold in the white slave market ALL THE TIME, NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.

    20 years ago.

    cl gave the police someplace to find these victims.
    before cl, there were no RESCUED victims of trafficking. EVER.

    cl enabled RESCUE because the pigs would accidentally stumble across a few of these victims while looking for scantily clad women they could harass on cl.

    when your teenage child disappears, the police just file a report.

    anybody who has ever had a teenager run away knows the cops WILL NOT look for them. NOT AT ALL. .. they were not really looking for them on cl either… but FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, victims of traffickers were being found.

    now they will be lost forever again but you wont hear their stories because they won’t be given a chance to tell them.

    cl was the ONLY website that actually had measures in place to help le identify the people who were posting ads. …. you can use a prepaid anonymous visa gift card on EVERY SINGLE ESCORT AD SITE and the newspapers but you couldnt use one of those on cl.

    its a sad day. . the newspapers and the politicians care more about money then our children… not exactly a newsflash that will shock anyone, but still pretty sad.

    it’s not like the newspapers are going to get people back to their classifieds section anyway…. it’s too late…. . they lost that revenue forever, due to their own greed but now, your children will be lost forever too… again.

    traffickers wont pay the $150+ week to advertise your kid for sale in the newspaper classifieds and even if they did, the newspapers wouldnt be able to identify who placed the ad.

  • McKinley

    I have a 13 yearold daughter who was kidnapped and sold on craigslist. She is now dead. This has to stop. We need some way to stop this.

  • Dan

    Ms Wanderer,even if they will do anything to keep this going, that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying to sell and buy children. This has to stop, one way or another, PERIOD!

  • wow! I use craigs list all the time and I wasn’t aware of this. Thanks for the info.

  • Ms. wanderer

    Doesn’t the fact that this is taking place online aid law enforcement in any way? It’s going to go on regardless, unfortunately. It seem that if the selling of children is taking place online it provides an open portal to get to the root of the problem — the traffickers.

    (Poor Craig, I’m sure he is as concerned about child sex trafficking as anyone.)

  • Please watch this video!

  • ai

    there’s more than one campaign to end slavery. check out freetheslaves.net and Kevin Bales’s text Ending Slavery.

  • Irene Wagner

    It doesn’t take much more time to leave a brief protest note at
    Craigslist’s website’s email-posting facility
    than it does to leave a comment here. Thanks for your good work, Shelley Seale.

  • True, there are various avenues to garner child trafficking but friends, Craigslist has shaped up to be the most sought after medium to solicit prostitution because it’s free, anonymous and the Web site’s operators say they depend on viewers to police content. The wide reach and popularity of Craigslist makes the situation worse.

    1. Craigslist site exhibits local classifieds and forums for 450 cities worldwide, in all 50 US states and over 50 countries.

    2. Craigslist gets more than 8 billion page views per month.

    3. More than 25 million people each month use craigslist.

    4. Craigslist users self-publish more than 20 million new classified ads each month.

    5. Every 10 days there are 25,000 new ads posted in the erotic services section.

    I work with a Human-Rights organization named Love146. We have initiated a campaign called “Call to Action” to fight child sex trafficking and exploitation on Craigslist. For further information on the Craigslist campaign.

    For updates on child-sex trafficking and exploitation on Craigslist, please visit Love146’s News Room.

  • Propagandist

    I’m sure it happens but this might be an alarmist view. Things like this can happen anywhere where people meet to buy and sell goods. Before the era of Craigslist, it probably happened with newspaper classifieds. There are other avenues such as private MIRC groups, coded messages elsewhere like personals that appear nonchalant, etc.
    It is a sick world but I dont think blaming craigslist will solve the problem.

  • Franco

    Is not one of the fastest ways to provide protective aid to these children to report it to Child Protective Services?

  • Joy

    This is incredible and outrageous. More people should be aware, and we should all be writing to craigslist demanding that they monitor and stop this crime from happening on their site.