SAN FRANCISCO -Filipino community leaders joined dozens of people who protested in front of the Craigslist headquarters, calling on the popular website to close its “Adult Services” section and set a sex industry-free standard which would eliminate human trafficking on the Internet.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Prostitution Research and Education and over 75 Co-Sponsors said technology should never be used to prostitute women and girls.
Protesters said a large portion of Craigslist profits come from the sale of commercial sexual exploitation, much of it trafficked, all of prostituted.
They say Craigslist normalizes and facilitates online pimping.
“They become another channel. They become cyber pimps. The owners of Craigslist need to regulate their website,” said Alfonso Faustino, a Filipino-America candidate for California Assembly.
Rudy Asercion, executive director of the Westbay Pilipino Multi-Service Center said because of hard economic times, more and more young Filipinas —13 to 14 year olds —roam the streets of San Francisco to sell their bodies. He said he won’t be surprised if their pimps use websites to advertise their services.
“Technology is being used to abuse these women and girls. For the rest of community, they would not care if they don’t know how bad it is. We have to let the community know,” said Asercion.
Members of the US Prostitutes Collective, who held a counter protest this afternoon, said stopping sex workers from advertising in Craigslist will do more harm than good.
Rachel West of US PROS said, “Stopping sex workers from advertising in Craigslist will prevent women from being able to work more safely from premises.It is ten times safer to work indoors than on the street. When sex workers are forced out of premises, many end up working on the street and are more vulnerable to rape, violence and arrest as a result”.
The groups said over 70% of sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers, working to support themselves and their families.
Craigslist management could not be reached for comment.
Filipino leaders said it all boils down to the government providing people education and jobs —opportunities that would take them away from the growing reach of the sex industry.