“New York Press No Longer Marketing Arm for Prostitution/Trafficking”

We are pleased to relay this press release from the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women:

August 6, 2007
Sonia Ossorio
President, NOW-NYC

New York Press No Longer Marketing Arm for Prostitution/Trafficking Industry (PDF)

New Owner Manhattan Media Committed to NOW-NYC’s Trafficking Free, NYC! Campaign

New York, New York – Under the new ownership of Manhattan Media, New York Press, a weekly publication, will be free of ads that advertise illegal massage parlors and blatant ads promoting prostitution. Manhattan Media initially will take a financial hit by dropping sex ads that have made up a sizable percentage of New York Press sales, but the long-term growth prospects for this widely-circulated newspaper dramatically increase as it is remade into a reputable publication.

“Tom Allon is a trailblazer,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women in New York City. “He sees the future of the newsprint business, and that future isn’t reliant on the fast, cheap money of the prostitution industry. With the increased public awareness of global trafficking of women and girls, including American teenagers, advertisers and readers find newspapers loaded with explicit content and photos of half-naked women just not acceptable. Not something they want in their reception room or on the coffee table.”

Today, trafficking human beings for sexual exploitation, labor, and domestic servitude is the third fastest growing illegal enterprise. The United States is the second highest destination in the world for trafficked women, with an estimated 17,500 women being smuggled in every year. Human traffickers find New York to be a great market. In fact, New York City is consistently named as one of the top cities that traffickers operate in.

NOW-NYC launched a critical campaign: Ending the Business of Human Trafficking in New York City in the Fall of 2006. We’re combating this pervasive problem by raising community awareness of human trafficking throughout New York; educating local businesses about their role in this illegal industry and working with local and state agencies to make trafficking a top priority in New York City.

Working with the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition, we secured a New York law that criminalizes trafficking, provides services for women and makes the tracking of trafficking a priority for the Division of Criminal Justice Services in New York.

Aimed at ending newspapers and magazines’ reliance on advertisement revenue from illegal massage parlors and brothels, NOW-NYC is asking local publications to stop doing business with the organized commercial sex industry by signing an antitrafficking pledge Trafficking Free, NYC! (Manhattan Media has signed on) “Traffickers supply the local brothel market to meet demand for commercial sex,” Ossorio said. “Once publishers understand how these massage parlors and ‘bodywork’ businesses operate, many are making the decision not to be associated with it. Others, unfortunately are generating such a big percentage of their revenue from it, they feel they can’t walk away.”

“The proliferation of organized prostitution in communities throughout New York is undeniable,” according to Ted Hughes, a law enforcement expert in organized criminal prostitution rings. “They are part of the local economy. Whether it’s the landlords who rent to traffickers at three times the market rate or the publications that act as the marketing arm of this organized crime, the scope of the problem is larger than most people would like to think.”

New York Press, along with the Village Voice, New York Magazine and the Verizon Yellow Pages are the leading publications that serve as the intermediary between “johns” and trafficked people. The Village Voice, a weekly with more than twice the readership of the Press, generates an average of $80,000 per month from the adult ads on its back pages, New York Magazine generates about $40,000 a month and the Verizon Yellow Pages generates more than $1 million a year.

These ads are for illegal businesses. In New York, massage parlors must be licensed by the state. If they are not licensed, they are prohibited from advertising or operating. Newspapers understand this. New York Magazine and the New York Press explicitly make the distinction between legitimate spas and illegal massage parlors by featuring two separate ad categories and by charging up to three times the normal rate for the illegal businesses.

“We’re simply asking publishers to do basic due diligence and use common sense,” Ossorio said. “If someone calls wanting to place an ad that reads ‘Russian Girls, Young, 24/7’ what’s there to check out? Take the contact information and call the police.” This ad appeard in El Diario/La Prensa May 17, 2007.

Ads provide buyers of commercial sex access to trafficked women. In March 2006, a large brothel in Flushing, Queens was shut down after an investigation by federal prosecutors. The house had secret passageways, and the vault held the women’s passports, $800,000 in cash and a supply of the drug ecstasy. This brothel was advertised regularly in the World Journal, a daily Mandarin newspaper. “There aren’t enough American women willing to do high volume assembly-line sex work to meet demand, so foreign women are brought to New York,” Ossorio said. “Brought under the false pretense that jobs await them as babysitters, housekeepers or waitresses, they quickly find out their job recruiters are pimps.”

The National Organization for Women is the nation’s largest organization working to advance women’s rights and improve women’s lives. The New York City Chapter of NOW, founded in 1966, is the largest chapter in the country with 7,000 members locally and 35,000 statewide. NOW-NYC works to protect women’s reproductive choices, end violence against women and eliminate sex discrimination in our schools, workplaces, and the justice system in New York.

150 West 28th Street, Suite 304, New York, NY 10001; phone 212.627.9895; fax 212.627.9861; contact@nownyc.org www.nownyc.org

See also:

The New York Observer: “At the New York Press: Layoffs, Circulation Drop, and No More Hooker Ads!”
Mr. Allon said… “We’re probably kissing away about a million dollars a year in revenue.”

New York Times: “New York Press Gets Rid of Sex Ads”

Testimony from Northampton: Porn Entwined with Years of Domestic Abuse; Sex Ads in Alt Weeklies (explicit language)
After an unwanted visit from him, when he was abusive and once again insistent on sexual acts, I discovered later when receiving my phone bill, that prior to the abuse, he had made many phone calls to the 1-900 sex calls that he had [seen] in the Valley Advocate…

Pasadena Weekly: “Lives for sale”
“They’re always a point of concern,” Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian told the newspaper. “We follow up on them fairly regularly. I have always been surprised that the [Pasadena] Weekly underwrites the exploitation of women to some degree.”

…“Asian Lovers: Best Young Girls in Town,” “Asian Girl: Pretty Apples,” “Grand Opening, Young Asia
n Cuties,” read several ads that appeared recently in the Weekly…

Ivy Suriyopaf, an attorney with the Asian-American Defense League, said that if an ad is suspicious, newspapers shouldn’t run it.

“Publications have a choice about whether to run certain ads,” said Suriyopaf. “If they have any reason to believe that businesses are conducting illicit activities, they have a social responsibility to report it to the authorities or, at the very least, not run the business’ advertisements.”

Belltown Messenger: “Greed, Lust and Ink”
…the only motivation for running escort ads in the first place is unbridled greed-and these supposedly liberal publications can’t have it both ways when defending the rights of society’s underdogs in their editorial content…

The “adult services” sections of the Stranger and Seattle Weekly are no bargain for those in the sex industry. They bill at four times the rate of the regular ads and then some.

Testimony in Los Angeles: Pornographers Place Recruitment Ads for “Models” in Newspapers
And she proceeded to tell me her friend, who’s on welfare, has three children, saw an ad in the newspaper. It said, “Girls, Girls, Girls.” And she brought it in and showed it to me, and it’s very typical in all the newspapers: Modeling, $300 a day. And she felt she could get money for her children for Christmas for presents. She didn’t have money.

New York Times: The Girls Next Door; Worldwide Sex Trafficking; Role of Porn
In Eastern European capitals like Kiev and Moscow, dozens of sex-trafficking rings advertise nanny positions in the United States in local newspapers; others claim to be scouting for models and actresses…

”…[Young women’s] idea of prostitution is ‘Pretty Woman,’ which is one of the most popular films in Ukraine and Russia. They’re thinking, This may not be so bad…”

Strip Clubs: Dancers Pay to Work There
…the girls who work there, the dancers…pay $150 to $200 a shift for the privilege of working… I asked one guy in the business, “What’s the biggest risk to your business model?” He said if the government stops immigration from Eastern Europe.

Gloria Steinem at Smith: Cooperation, Not Domination
…there are more slaves in proportion to the world’s population–more people held by force or coercion without benefit from their work–more now than there were in the 1800s. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, children and adults forced into armies: they all add up to a global human-trafficking industry that is more profitable than the arms trade, and second only to the drug trade. The big difference now from the 1800s is that the United Nations estimates that 80% of those who are enslaved are women and children…

Omni Hotels Drops Porn, Reaps Rewards

Sony says ‘no’ to porn on Blu-ray Disc

CleanHotels.com: A network of lodging facilities that do not offer in-room, ‘adult’, pay-per-view movies

Corporate Self-Restraint at Leading Domain-Name Exchange

Hooksett, NH, 1999: Citizens Convince Property Owner to Withdraw Application for Capital Video Porn Shop