The Power of Your Voice

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas time, whether relaxing with family or keeping the world a safe place.

I rarely watch TV, but there are a feast of programs to watch while I enjoy watching someone else’s TV.

The is a time that the advertisers go full throttle because they are aware of their increased following at this time of year. They have at least one new person to try to sell too…Me!

The power of advertising is huge. But these advertisements are useless without one thing. YOU…the audience.

I know this is obvious! How often though do we consider our own power?

Why is all this money spent attracting our attention?

It has to be because we are worth it!

With this in mind I enjoyed reading this article were, in a very unusual move, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution last week calling on the ‘Village Voice’ to rid itself of its “adult” web feature that, critics argue, serves as a vehicle for prostitution and human trafficking including child prostitution.

Who are the ‘Village Voice’? They own “Backpage.com”!

In April 2012, several senators,  led by Sen. Kirk, sent a letter to advertisers requesting that they use their economic leverage to pressure the Village Voice. According to Sen. Kirk’s website, several major corporations agreed to do so.

Forty major advertisers received the letter, but according to Kirk’s website only eight of those responded and agreed to ban future advertising with the Village Voice:-

Toyota, AT&T, Live Nation, Crown Imports, MillerCoors, Children’s Wish Foundation, Mayo Clinic and T-Mobile.

So what about the other 33 companies? Who are they?

The full text of the letter is below.

We are writing to strongly encourage you, as well as other leaders of major employers, charitable organizations, and public, educational and cultural institutions that advertise on Village Voice publications, to use your economic influence to end the online child sex trafficking facilitated by a Village Voice Media subsidiary, Backpage.com.

 

Experts estimate that up to 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States, and that girls and boys are forced into prostitution at the average ages of 12 to 14 and 11 to 13, respectively. A chilling report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 40 percent of incidents investigated by federally funded task forces on human trafficking between 2008 and 2010 involved the sexual exploitation of a child. Unfortunately, these numbers only continue to rise.

 

According to the classified advertising consultant Advanced Media Interactive (AIM) Group, Backpage.com is the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising. In fact, an astounding 80 percent of online prostitution advertising revenue for the month of February 2012 was attributed to Backpage.com.

 

An alarming number of media reports are being written about pimps and traffickers using Backpage.com to advertise sexual services by minors. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) found more than 50 instances nationwide of charges filed against people trafficking or attempting to traffic minors on Backpage.com. Recent child prostitution cases involving Backpage.com include:

  • Myrelle and Tyrelle Lockett, pled guilty to trafficking of persons for forced labor or services in February 2011 for prostituting multiple Chicago area girls, including at least one who was underage. The girls were advertised on Backpage.com with rates as high as $300 per hour.
  • Demetrius Darnell Homer, convicted of sex trafficking of a minor and sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2011 for violently forcing a 14-year-old Atlanta girl into prostitution and posting her services on Backpage.com. Homer kept the girl in line through beatings, threatening her with a knife, and on one occasion, shocking her with a taser in front of another underage girl he had placed in prostitution. Homer even forced the girl to engage in prostitution while she was pregnant with his child. 
  • Akmal S. Karon, a Minnesota man, charged with eight counts of child prostitution for pimping two underage girls and keeping them in line using rape and extreme violence. One girl, who first began working as a prostitute for Karon at 15, told police that Karon raped her, punched her in the face, repeatedly kicked her, burned her hand with a cigar, and once hit her in the head with a Snapple bottle when she did not earn enough money. Karon picked up the other girl outside her home just a few days before her 14th birthday. He raped and beat her the following day at a motel, and then held her captive for over a week, forcing her to work for him as a prostitute. Karon advertised both girls on Backpage.com.
  • Ronnie Leon Tramble, sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of sex trafficking through force, fraud and coercion for using threats and violence to force multiple young women and girls, at least one of whom was just 14, to work as prostitutes. One of the girls reported being beaten by Tramble approximately three times a week.

Attached are examples, provided by law enforcement authorities, of the despicable ads Tramble posted of his underage victims on Backpage.com. We are confident your organization does not condone this kind of victimization and would not want its advertising dollars going to support it.

Village Voice Media asserts that employees are working closely to monitor the website, claiming to remove 400 ads that market the sexual exploitation of minors every month through a manual review process. But according to field experts and law enforcement authorities, these actions pale in comparison to the illegal activity facilitated via the website. NAAG maintains that the number of postings for prostitution services has not appeared to decrease since the issue was first raised with Village Voice Media and Missouri investigators found that Backpage.com’s review procedures are ineffective in policing illegal activity. The only way to ensure our children’s safety on the advertising network is to shut down the “adult entertainment” section of the website.

 

Village Voice Media reaps millions in profits each month from Backpage.com’s prostitution advertising and has thus far ignored all pleas from the community to protect our children. We ask that you work with other organizations that advertise in Village Voice to make the economic case to Village Voice Media to do the right thing and shut down the “adult entertainment” section.

 

On March 23, 2012, 19 United States Senators added their voices to the 51 Attorneys General, dozens of human rights and sexual assault organizations, faith leaders, The Seattle Times, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and more than 240,000 individuals who signed a Change.org petition on this issue, urging Village Voice Media in the strongest terms possible to follow Craigslist and remove the “adult entertainment” section from Backpage.com. We hope you will do the same.

 

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to working with you to curb online child sexual exploitation.

Recipients of the letter included:

Mr. David Peacock, President, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.

Mr. Dov Charney, Chairman and CEO, American Apparel, Inc.

Mr. Robert Darbelnet, President and CEO, American Automobile Association

Mr. Bob Lander, President and CEO, Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Mr. Robert Furniss-Roe, President, Bacardi USA, Inc.

Mr. William J. Lynch, Jr., CEO, Barnes and Noble, Inc.

Mr. Willy Burkhardt, President, Blue Man Productions, Inc.

Mr. James T. Reynolds, President, Cancer Fund of America, Inc.

Mr. Sanford I. Weill, Chairman, Carnegie Hall Corporation

Ms. Linda Dozoretz, Executive Director, Children’s Wish Foundation International

Mr. Bob Pittman, CEO, Clear Channel Communications, Inc.

Mr. Frank Day, Chairman, CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.

Mr. Bill Hackett, President, Crown Imports LLC

Mr. Brian Vogt, CEO, Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc.

Mr. Larry Schwartz, President, North America, Diageo PLC

Mr. George Bodenheimer, Executive Chairman, ESPN, Inc.

Mr. Jim Gibbons, President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International, Inc.

Mr. Thomas Pritzker, Executive Chairman, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Mr. Kenneth Hicks, Chairman, President and CEO, Foot Locker, Inc.

Mr. Ted Mundorff, CEO, Landmark Theatres

Mr. Jon Feltheimer, Co-Chairman and CEO, Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation

Mr. Michael Rapino, President and CEO, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.

Mr. Todd Wagner, Co-Founder and CEO, 2929 Entertainment

Mr. John Willard Marriott, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International, Inc.

John H. Noseworthy, M.D., President and CEO, Mayo Clinic

Mr. James J. Murren, Chairman and CEO, MGM Resorts International

Mr. Philip W. O’Neil, President, Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.

Mr. Peter Coors, Chairman, MillerCoors LLC

Ms. Kim Jordan, CEO, New Belgium Brewing Company, Inc.

Mr. Richard Federico, Chairman and Co-CEO, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.

Mr. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, Relativity Media LLC

Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander, The Salvation Army

Mr. Charles Wright, Chairman, Seattle Art Museum

Mr. Michael Lynton, Co-Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.

Mr. Philipp Humm, President and CEO, T-Mobile USA, Inc.

Mr. Yoshimi Inaba, Chairman, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Toyota Motor Corporation

Chancellor Gene D. Block, University of California, Los Angeles

Mr. Brian Gallagher, President and CEO, United Way Worldwide

Chancellor Robert Coombe, University of Denver

Mr. Barry M. Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Warner Brothers Entertainment.

So by the process of elimination you should be able to work out who continues to advertise using this forum!!

So who do these advertisers rely upon to make their money?

Oh!!!!!! that would be us!

So I for one will be writing to these companies telling them I will not be giving them my money.

I am sure they will be devastated by this fact!

How many letters do they need to receive to make them truly devastated?

Cast your mind back to when our financial institutions suddenly had their customers removing their funds from them. What happens when you lose your customers?

A community in South London, Croydon’s CCAT did exactly this after targeting local newspapers informing them that they were advertising prostitution services.

They threatened to take legal proceedings against the newspapers. The Newspapers stopped carrying the adverts.

You have a voice.

That voice is a powerful one when it is joined with many others.

One last thing. I noticed that amongst the names not responding was Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander, The Salvation Army!

A recent survivor who had been trafficked as a child commented…“You can’t buy a child at Wal-Mart, can you?” she asked . “No, but you can go to Backpage and buy me on Backpage.”

backpagegirl

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5 responses to “The Power of Your Voice

  1. Hi Roddy,

    I have recently noticed that Backpage advertises escorts in the UK as well, including London. Maybe this is also something to be aware of and keep an eye on?

    Also, thank you for mentioning CCAT in your blogs.

    Judit (from ccat)

  2. yes, definitely.

    Hope to meet you someday as heard many good things about you from A Desmond!

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