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The Village Voice and the selling of children for sex on the Internet

A popular 'adult' advertising website run by the Village Voice should go the way of Craigslist's 'erotic services' site.

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One of the most hidden and hideous crimes in America is the sex trafficking of children. But this selling of minors quickly becomes less hidden when Internet sites for community advertising become giant magnets for the sex trade.

In 2009, the classified-ad giant Craigslist was forced under public pressure to end its sexually related advertising, in large part because of the difficulty of blocking ads that also lead to sexually exploiting children.

Now, a popular site run by Village Voice Media, which owns a chain of “alternative” news publications, is being targeted for not screening its “adult” advertising very well for criminals in the business of exploiting children for sex.

In August, the nation’s state attorneys general demanded that the Village Voice close its entire adult site. Then last week, an interfaith group of 36 clergy took out an ad in The New York Times making a moral case for the same action.

The Village Voice, which makes millions from its adult Web ads, claims it has lately devoted resources to blocking such ads, even working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children – while at the same time claiming a free-speech right to keep its adult ads.

But the attorneys general cite dozens of arrests in various states for child-sex crimes related to the site. This popular advertising hub for sexual services, they say, posts pictures of adults, but then “minors are substituted at the ‘point of sale’ in a grossly illegal transaction.”

The site, in other words, facilitates a criminal activity. Both the clergy and the law enforcement group say screening is either unreliable or insincere, and that the only way to prevent such crimes via this site is to shut it down.

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