Washington Post: “Online Sex Connections Linked to False Sense of Security”

Today’s Washington Post (ironically itself a participant in prostitution) reports how Craigslist’s new “adult services” section differs little from its former “erotic services” section:

Online Sex Connections Linked to False Sense of Security

…police say Craigslist’s adult services section, which the company pledged to monitor closely, has quickly emerged as a major virtual meeting spot for the sex trade in the Washington region. More than 700 ads were listed locally on the site yesterday. Close-ups of women in lingerie have replaced purely pornographic images, but euphemistic descriptions of services and hourly rates — often expressed as “roses” or “donations” — remain.

In recent interviews, nearly a dozen women who posted ads on Craigslist said that they know the risks involved. But police said many women engage in online prostitution because they fail to appreciate the dangers.

The women are able to post ads from the comfort of their homes, on a Web site more often used for such mundane tasks as selling used couches. The encounters, however, often require traveling alone, meeting a man at a hotel room and telling no one, a scenario that can leave a woman particularly vulnerable.

In the Washington area, according to police, at least 50 women have been raped or severely beaten in the past two years by men who responded to ads they posted on Craigslist.

“The number is probably 10 times that, actually,” said Inspector Brian Bray, who heads the D.C. police prostitution unit. “The majority of women who may be raped are prostitutes who are . . . not reporting it.”

…Although Craigslist is widely known for other services, the erotic services portion of the site had more visitors in the Washington area last month than all “for-sale” ads, according to an analysis that Compete.Com performed for The Washington Post.

See also:

Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations
The average age of entry into prostitution is 13
years (M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, “Victimization of street
prostitutes, Victimology: An International Journal, 7: 122-133) or 14
years (D.Kelly Weisberg, 1985, Children of the Night: A Study of
Adolescent Prostitution, Lexington, Mass, Toronto). Most of these 13 or
14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others
were “traditional wives” without job skills who escaped from or were
abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support
themselves and their children. (Denise Gamache and Evelina Giobbe,
Prostitution: Oppression Disguised as Liberation, National Coalition
against Domestic Violence, 1990)

Estimates of the prevalence of incest among prostitutes range from 65%
to 90%. The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon
Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute/clients reported
history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest…

studies report 68% to 70% of women in prostitution being raped…

Canadian Report on Prostitution and Pornography concluded that girls
and women in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than
the national average…

In one study,
75% of women in escort prostitution had attempted suicide. Prostituted
women comprised 15% of all completed suicides reported by hospitals…

of 475 people in prostitution from South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA,
and Zambia met diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder
(PTSD). 92% stated that they wanted to leave prostitution…

Prostitution looks chic, but truth is ugly (Chicago Tribune, 4/27/08)
A comprehensive 2004 mortality study, funded by the National Institutes
of Health and conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows
that workplace homicide rates for women working in prostitution are 51
times that of the next most dangerous occupation for women (which is
working in a liquor store). The average age of death of the women
studied was 34.

New York Times: “7 Accused of Using Craigslist for Prostitution” (5/20/09)
Seven people have been indicted on charges of running a prostitution business in Queens that found clients through Craigslist and falsified records to make payments for sex appear to be for clowns and balloons, the state attorney general’s office announced on Wednesday.

Five of the defendants were arraigned in State Supreme Court in Queens on a range of charges, from felony enterprise corruption and promoting prostitution to money laundering, said a statement from the attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo…

Mr. Cuomo’s statement said, “Until Craigslist gets serious about putting real protections in place, it will continue to be an environment where criminal operations thrive with impunity.”

AP: “Craigslist to drop ‘erotic services’ classifieds” (5/13/09)
A month after the killing of a masseuse who advertised on Craigslist, the classified ad site announced plans Wednesday to eliminate its “erotic services” category and screen all submissions to a new “adult services” section before they are posted.

Law enforcement officials praised the move as a victory against online prostitution, but they acknowledged doubts about whether the changes will curb the practice…

The announcement marked a significant policy change for Craigslist, which in the past has never prescreened ads, choosing instead to remove them only after receiving complaints. The new adult services ads will also carry a fee.

Skeptical authorities said the Web site had broken previous promises to monitor erotic ads…

New postings in the “adult services” category will cost $10, but once a posting is approved, customers will be eligible for reposting at $5…

Attorneys General Press Craigslist about Ads for Prostitution and Other Illegal Activities (5/4/09)
“craigslist is allowing advertisements for illegal activities like
prostitution on its site,” Koster said. “It is blatant. It is
irresponsible. It is illegal.

Springfield Republican: “Woman’s murder in Boston hotel linked to Craigslist advertising of massage services” (4/16/09)

Springfield Republican: “R.I. police see similarity between Boston Craigslist slaying and attempted robbery at Warwick hotel” (4/17/09)

Media Daily: “Craigslist Claims Fewer ‘Erotic Services’ Ads Due To New
Listing Requirements, Defends Against Sheriff’s Lawsuit”

Last week, the Cook County sheriff sued Craigslist for creating a
public nuisance by facilitating prostitution. The lawsuit, which seeks
an injunction and monetary damages, alleges that the county recently
made 156 arrests, at a cost of around $105,000 after monitoring the

Wall Street Journal: “Craigslist Gets Tougher On ‘Erotic Services’ Ads”

New York Times: “As Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice”

Springfield Republican: “Rape victim left for dead (update)” (12/27/08)

Polaris Project: “The Washington Post: A Paper Pimp?” (Part One)

Polaris Project: “The Washington Post: A Paper Pimp?” (Part Two)

Call to Action: Ask the Valley Advocate’s New Owner to Drop the Sex Ads

Investigates Human Trafficking and Prostitution in the US; Valley
Advocate Advertises “Foreign Fantasies” Where “Everything Goes”

Escort Prostitution: A Response to Tom Vannah, Editor of the Valley

Another Victory for NOW-NYC: New York Magazine Drops Sex Ads