In September, after pressure from NGOs and 17 American attorneys general, Craigslist shut down the erotic services section in the U.S. It was a day of celebration for anti-trafficking groups across America, as Craigslist is a medium of choice for traffickers who sell their girls online.
Unfortunately Craigslist has not taken the same action in Canada, and sexual exploitation through their online doors continues to flourish. In fact, over the last few years there has been a dramatic growth in the number of erotic services ads in Canadian cities like Toronto, which saw a 100% increase between 2008 and 2009. This figure is on the rise, and victims of trafficking are increasingly being discovered amidst those who advertise their services ‘by choice.’ Sadly these victims are impossible to distinguish based on a mere photo and description online, and most of those who have been found have already been exploited for a while through the online market.
When Craigslist shut down its erotic services in the U.S., many wondered why it did not extend the action to Canada as well. Craigslist simply stated that there was no concern expressed from Canadian authorities to do the same.
Benjamin Perrin, author of Invisible Chains, is on a mission to change that. He has spoken extensively with Craigslist about this, asking them to take action in Canada. It has fallen on deaf ears. So Perrin is rallying up Canadian citizens and leaders send the message to Craigslist, loud and clear.
Three Ontario cabinet ministers are on board, recently sending a letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster. Manitoba, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan have followed suit. The pressure is building. And if Craigslist refuses to take action?
“I’m prepared to lay private criminal charges against Craigslist” says Perrin in a CBC article, “The basis of the case would be the evidence we have obtained through our research over a three-year period that they are aiding and abetting human trafficking and the sale of minors and prostitution.”
And what can you do, as a Canadian citizen wanting to take action? Sign an online petition to make your voice heard. There are almost 10,000 signatures to date, so add yours now!