A campaign aiming to shut down the adult section of Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com classified site has a group of musicians on its side including Alicia Keys and members of Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Roots and The Civil Wars. Backpage.com’s prostitution ads are accused of child sex trafficking.
The musicians, who announced their support this week, also include Daniel Bedingfield, Ken Stringfellow, Lera Lynn, Rosanne Cash, Scott McCaughey and Talib Kweli, along with members of Alabama Shakes, Dead Confederate, Drive-By Truckers, The Minus Five and The Posies. Some of the artists are using their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to bring awareness to the campaign, according to the New York Times.
“Village Voice Media has a history of being a strong advocate for the arts, reporting extensively on musicians and their work in its 13 weeklies across the country,” former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills said in a statement. “That musicians are now speaking out against Village Voice Media’s refusal to take down the Adult section of Backpage.com where pimps advertise the sale of girls for sex is significant and should send a clear message to the company that it needs to take action to ensure no child is sexually exploited through the use of its site.”
According to a February 2012 report from trade organization AIM Group, Backpage.com brought in $25.4 million in prostitution advertising between January 2011 and January 2012. That figure accounts for about two-thirds of the total prostitution advertising in 23 U.S. cities, making Backpage.com the leading U.S. site for prostitution advertising.
Change.org is continuing to collect signatures for its petition addressed to Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin and the Village Voice Media Board of Directors demanding that the company gets rid of the adult section on Backpage.com to “stop providing a platform for child sex trafficking.” Last month three New York City council members, 20 religious leaders and 75 community members delivered nearly a quarter of a million signatures to the Village Voice headquarters in New York City. The current signature count is 235,401.
Last August 51 of the nation’s attorneys general sent a letter asking Village Voice Media to close the adult section on Backpage.com, according to the New York Times. A group of 600 religious leaders, organized by interfaith social justice group Groundswell, ran a full page ad in the New York Times last year to protest the Backpage.com ads, noting the arrests of adults who had sold minors for sex through the site.
AT&T, American Airlines and REI are a few of the national brands that have stopped advertising with Village Voice Media, whose 13 weeklies include New York City’s The Village Voice, LA Weekly, Houston Press and Phoenix New Times.
Click here to sign Change.org’s petition against child sex trafficking on Backpage.com.