Do you watch ESPN? Great channel, right? Did you also know that ESPN is inadvertently supporting the sex trade of American children? ESPN Inc. advertises through Village Voice Media – who in turn advertises American children on their classified escorts site Backpage.com.
Shared Hope International has documented over 200 children who have been sold for sex on Backpage.com in the United States, most victimized in the last 3 years. Shared Hope believes that just one trafficked child is enough reason to act. However, Village Voice Media, the parent-company of Backpage.com, has taken no responsibility for the victimized children and refuses to shut down their escorts’ site to deter the growing number of victims. Also, Village Voice Media is projected to make $26 million this year from their online escort section alone.
Multiple states are trying to take action to protect children from being exploited through online classified sites like Backpage.com’s adult section through legislative action but currently the company is claiming protection under the 1st Amendment and the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which states that a business is not liable for third-party content. Nonetheless, 51 Attorneys General, 19 U.S Senators, 2000 multi-faith religious leaders, 53 leading anti-trafficking experts and organizations and over 250,000 people have stood up and demanded that Village Voice Media shuts down Backpage.com’s escort section. And it is definitely time for Village Voice Media to listen to them.
At this point, Village Voice has proven that they are uninterested in losing revenue made off the commercial exploitation of our children; therefore it is time for Americans to rise up in defense of our children being sold on Backpage.com.
ESPN is one of 40 companies which U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) wrote a letter in April 2012 asking them to withdraw their advertising from Village Voice Media. Multiple companies including Starbucks, T-Mobile and AT&T removed advertisement from Village Voice newspapers because they did not want to be associated with domestic child sex trafficking.
As a consumer you have a great deal of power, so it is up to you to harness that power for the protection of children from sex slavery and sex trafficking. Inform these companies that you want domestic child sex trafficking eradicated and for that to happen, they must stop advertising with Village Voice Media. If they don’t, you will be forced to remove your economic support from their company.
Businesses identified by the Groundswell Campaign who continue to support child sex trafficking by advertising with Village Voice Media:
American Apparel, Inc.
American Automobile Association
Angelika Film Center
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau
Bacardi USA, Inc.
Blick Art Materials
Blue Man Productions, Inc.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Cancer Fund of America, Inc.
Cirque du Soleil
Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY – New York State Psychiatric Institute
CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries, Inc.
Dave and Busters
Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc.
Focus Features (Moonrise Kingdom)
Foot Locker, Inc.
Hard Rock Café
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Landmark Sunshine Cinema
Lincoln Center Theater
Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation
Marriott International, Inc
Mesa Arts Center
MGM Resorts International
Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.
MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – Mood and Personality Disorders Research Program Department of Psychiatry
New Belgium Brewing Company, Inc.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc.
St. Louis Rams
The Bowery Presents
The Salvation Army
Toyota Motor Corporation
United Way Worldwide
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Denver
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Brothers Entertainment
YWCA of Minneapolis
YWCA Twin Cities
“How many kids need to be exploited before they [Backpage.com] change their business model?” – Ernie Allen, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children