Backpage.com CEO convicted, hope for the system

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By Michaela Gates, Staff Writer

Backpage.com CEO, Carl Ferrer, was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy this past week and has agreed to give information of several cases that have to do with conspiracy to commit prostitution.  

This is a tremendous win for American women as the site has essentially been a national online brothel where thousands of women have been forced into human trafficking rings. The site has hidden behind some very vague and outdated laws that state that an internet sight is not responsible for content posted by users.  

Therefore, when users were posting adds for prostitution, Backpage.com was not deemed responsible for the content. To worsen things, many of these adds were of women who were kidnapped and forced into prostitution, rather than doing it on there own free will.  

However, it seems that our criminal justice system has not backed off Backpage.com and the disgusting content on the site. While the site is still up and running this is certainly a step in the right direction.  

If the justice system can take down the people at the top of the pyramid as they have with Ferrer it is only a matter of time until the website is shut down and several thousands of woman can be freed from the chains of sex trafficking.  

I have heard many arguments by other feminists that it is a women’s right to participate in sex work if she chooses and that Backpage.com helps them make their living. I can agree with women participating in sex work if they truly want to do it, however a slew of women on Backpage.com are being forced to be on the website by fear as well as intimidation.  

With the website being so accessible and sex trade being so lucrative the two collide on a dangerous crash course and while it may help some women who want to participate in sex work; it makes sex work even more lucrative then it previously has been meaning that many women are more at risk to be forced into it as is happening right now.  

I understand that Backpage.com cannot screen every ad that gets put up on there website, however the high ranking members of their company have made it very clear they could careless about the agency of women and only care about the extensive profits they are making off such prostitution ads.  

If this was not already obvious, it should be now that Backpage.com’s CEO has agreed to give information on the aforementioned conspiracy charges. The men running Backpage.com are nothing more than sexist pigs and while I am very used to our justice system giving leverage to men like this and allowing them to commit heinous acts, I am please to say that this time our justice system actually worked.  

The fact is, we cannot end sex trafficking fully as there is far too many people participating in it, however we can end Backpage.com, which has arguably made sex trafficking easier than it was in previous decades.  

Today it is just one CEO being put on the chopping block for his gross actions, however I would argue that this is only the beginning. Backpage.com has been on the ropes for a number of years for the content on there website and while I was truly unsure if the site would be taken down; I know truly believe the end is near. Backpage.com is on borrowed time and I cannot begin to tell you how it feels to know that our justice system actually stood up for its female citizens, rather than just claiming to do so.   

Photo Courtesy: New York Times

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