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New TV and online ad targets backpage.com over child sex trafficking controversy

( Fair Girls) - A new television and online ad launched this week that portrays a 13-year old survivor of child sex trafficking who was advertised by her pimp on Backpage.com. The ad is the latest in a string of efforts to convince Village Voice Media, owner of the general classifieds website Backpage.com, to shut down the adult section of the site where children and teens have been advertised by others for sex.

 

Sponsored by FAIR Girls, a social service organization dedicated to preventing the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education, the 30-second ad is unveiling online today and will debut on television Sunday on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. It also will air several times next week on cable.

 

The ad recounts the true story of a 13-year old girl who was repeatedly advertised for sex by her pimp on Backpage.com. Her experience of exploitation began when she was only 9 years old. At 12, her trafficker started marketing her on Backpage.com. To protect her identity, a young actress and activist, Victoria Pannell, plays the part of the survivor.

 

"Almost every single sex trafficked girl we have assisted in the U.S. this year was sold by her pimp using the adult section of Backpage.com. In the past year, the number of girls we have assisted has more than doubled. For us, this is not just a campaign. This is about protecting real girls from being victimized," said Andrea Powell, Co-founder and Executive Director of FAIR Girls.

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes added, "Backpage.com is the new street corner where traffickers pimp their often underage victims, and many of the 40-plus indictments secured by my Sex Trafficking Unit in the past two years involve advertisements on Backpage.com."

 

The ad urges the public to join the campaign demanding Village Voice Media shut down the adult section of Backpage.com by signing a petition sponsored by Pannell on SignOn.org.

 

Watch the ad here:

 

 

The campaign also rallies the public to contact 26 major advertisers in Village Voice Media's 13 flagship publications and ask them to join the human rights movement by immediately discontinuing their advertisements in Village Voice Media newspapers until the company closes the adult section of Backpage.com.

 

FAIR Girls' call to advertisers follows similar appeals made by Groundswell, the social action initiative of Auburn Seminary and convener of a coalition of 700 clergy speaking out about Backpage.com, four U.S. Senators, Change.org, and other activists. Their collective efforts have resulted in several national brands, including AT&T, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and IHOP, ceasing their advertisements with Village Voice Media.