[JURIST] The classified advertising website Craigslist [website] removed its “adult services” section Saturday, replacing it with a “censored” label after 18 state attorneys general criticized the section in a letter [text] sent last month. The letter, written by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal [official website] and joined by the attorneys general of 17 other states, called on Craigslist to remove the section due to alleged “rampant prostitution advertisements” and because it is supposedly used to facilitate human trafficking of women and children:
The increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution — including ads trafficking children — are rampant on it. In our view, the company should take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads. We recognize that Craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads. No amount of money can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist.
Blumenthal estimated at the time of the letter that Craigslist could be generating more than $36 million in revenue [Reuters report] due to advertising related to prostitution and human trafficking in this section. The change was only made on the US version of the site. Craigslist is expected to release a statement [BBC report] on the change in the coming week.
Human trafficking has been a major concern of US federal authorities in recent years. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced Thursday that a Hawaii grand jury has indicted six people [JURIST report] on human trafficking charges. The defendants allegedly enticed approximately 400 Thai nationals to come to the US by falsely promising them job opportunities and then forcing them to work at farms in Washington and Hawaii by threatening economic harm. In June, the US State Department [official website] issued its annual report on human trafficking conditions [JURIST report] across the globe, which found the US “has a serious problem with human trafficking, both for labor and commercial sexual exploitation.”