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Friday, August 27, 2010

CALL TO ACTION: Attorney Generals Letter to Craigslist - Is Your AG on the List?

A Communication From the Chief Legal Officers
Of the Following States and Territories: 
Arkansas  *  Connecticut  *  Idaho  *  Illinois  *  Iowa  *  Kansas  
Maryland  *  Michigan   *  Mississippi  *  Missouri  *  New Hampshire  *  Ohio  
Rhode Island  *  South Carolina  *  Tennessee  *  Texas  *  Virginia

August 24, 2010
Sent via facsimile

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


Edward Wes, Esq.
Perkins Coie
101 Jefferson Dr
Menlo Park, CA 94025-1114

RE:  Adult Services Section of Craigslist

Dear Messrs. Buckmaster, Newmark and Wes:

We are writing to request that you immediately take down the Adult Services portion of craigslist. 

The increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution -- including ads trafficking children -- are rampant on it.  In our view, the company should take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads.  Because craigslist cannot, or will not, adequately screen these ads, it should stop accepting them altogether and shut down the Adult Services section.   

In July 2010, two girls who said that they were trafficked for sex through craigslist wrote an “open letter” to your company in which they pleaded with you to eliminate the Adult Services section.  Their poignant account told a horrific story of brutalization and assault suffered not just by them, but also by untold numbers of other children. 

Other reports about the Adult Services webpage support these claims.  Indeed, in a recent report, CNN correspondent Amber Lyon posted a fictional prostitution advertisement on the Adult Services section, and received 15 telephone calls soliciting sex in just a three hour period.   

Ms. Lyon then confronted Mr. Newmark with an actual advertisement found on craigslist depicting a young woman in highly suggestive attire and clearly listing hourly rates.  She then asked Mr. Newmark pointedly what services he thought the ad was selling.  

Regrettably, Ms. Lyon’s question was met first with silence, then with misdirection.  In fact, when Ms. Lyon told Mr. Newmark that some child advocates have dubbed craigslist “the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking,” he chose to walk away.  These reports and others show that that craigslist’s imagined utopia, where every Adult Services advertisement is harmless until proven otherwise, is a fallacy.  

In your recent blog posts and public statements, including the CNN interview, you imply that victims, law enforcement officials and children’s advocates may be at least partially to blame for these incidents because they have not provided craigslist with police reports, ad copy or links documenting these heinous crimes.  This variant of “blame the victim” is deeply troubling.  It also disregards, perhaps intentionally, two fundamental facts.  First, craigslist is the only player in the sex industry who is in a position to stop these ads before they are published.  Second, once an ad goes live on the site, it is a virtual certainty that someone will be victimized.  Yes, the perpetrators may eventually be apprehended and brought to justice, but the victim, assuming she survives, will carry the scars for life.  No amount of after-the fact documentation will erase that enduring harm.  Equally important, your much-touted “manual review” of Adult Services ads has failed to yield any discernable reduction in obvious solicitations.   

We recognize that craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads.  No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist. 

We sincerely hope craigslist will finally hear the voices of the victims, women and children, who plead with you to make this important change.  We, too, call on craigslist to listen and respond now by shutting down the Adult Services section of its website.  Such action is the right thing to do to protect innocent woman and children. 

Very truly yours,
[Signed by 17 Attorney State Generals]



If your Attorney General is not listed above, please contact them and request they join the others.  You can simply google your state's name & Attorney General.  They will have a form to email them.  Please fill it out.  I simply copy & pasted the above letter and added:

"As a victim's advocate, that specializes in working with women and children that have been victims of commercialized sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, I hope that you will join us in ending this public exploitation." 

Together we are better & can make a difference! 

Thank you,

Julie Shematz
CEO & Founder of Beauty From Ashes Ministries

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