Craigslist recently shut down its “adult services” section under fire from many groups who accused the site of facilitating prostitution. However, before there was the “adult services” page on Craigslist there was the back page on the Village Voice, and it is apparently getting the company in trouble.
Wired is reporting that a former child prostitute “M.A.” (she is still a minor) has filed a lawsuit against Village Voice Media for “for knowingly allowing her pimp to post ads for her “services” on the popular backpage.com.”
M.A. says she was 14 when she was found as a runaway by McFarland, who began pimping out M.A. for $100 per sex act (McFarland took half the earnings). In order to advertise M.A.’s services, McFarland took pornographic photos of M.A. and posted them on backpage.com in the personals section for those seeking sex. McFarland pleaded guilty earlier this month to photographing M.A. in pornographic poses, posting child porn on backpage, paying the site for the postings, transporting M.A. for the purpose of pimping her out for sex, and collecting money for M.A.’s sexual services.
M.A. asserts in her complaint that the Voice knew she was both underage and that the ads were for prostitution services, though according to Wired that “no evidence is outlined in the complaint that explicitly points to Village Voice having this knowledge.” Of course, as Wired notes, anyone who has read these back pages will not be surprised to learn that prostitution was being advertised (the euphemisms employed in those ads were never terribly euphemistic) nor, sadly, that the girls were underage. However, perhaps this suit coming as it does after the Craigslist decision signifies that the people running the ads will be held to greater accountability down the line. Also, hats off to this M.A. person for having the courage to launch a lawsuit, regardless of its outcome.
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