August 3rd, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Craigslist's shame: Child sex ads

Editor's note: Malika Saada Saar is the founder and executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights. The Rebecca Project is a nonprofit organization that advocates for justice, dignity and policy reform for vulnerable women and girls in the United States and in Africa.

Malika Saada Saar
Special to CNN

Last month, two girls trafficked for sex through the website Craigslist wrote an open letter to its founder, Craig Newmark, pleading with him to get rid of the adult services section, where sex ads are placed.

"I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man," "M.C." wrote. "I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age, his house was called 'Daddy Day Care.'

"All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist. He made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock - and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car. I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren't of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths."

No one from Craigslist responded to M.C.

According to the most recent Department of Justice statistics, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children are sold for sex every year in the United States. Most are from 11 and 14 years old. Try for a moment to imagine your fifth-grade child, niece or sister, sold for sex.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Opinion
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Brandon

    While this poor girl went through a horrible ordeal, don't blame craigslist. Before them it was newspaper ads and word of mouth. There will always be some method, technology-based or otherwise for people to connect that will be abused for this purpose. Blame law enforcement for not cracking down on traffickers and the establishments that allow these things to take place.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  2. ernie figueroa

    This is verry sad and I think that we should re direct our energy to helping rescue kids like this and raise even more awareness and instead of imigration,drugs economy solutions we must get our priorities in order kids are 1st.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  3. Theresa

    Children are easily misled and victimized. Why? Because they're kids.

    Rebellious kids, kids who think their parents/guardians are being 'uncool' or just 'stupid' and kids who think they know what they're doing. Most kids gets their ideas from seemingly harmless media like television shows aimed at youth, or their friends and the friends of their friends, etc. And some kids are just 'neglected' by apathetic parents and guardians.

    Thanks for addressing the issue.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  4. Name*cherie

    Educate your self... these children are kidnapped and forced into this position.

    August 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Where are the parents or guardians of these girls? Why could the girls not ask their parents for help in getting out of the sex trade? As a parent I cannot imagine having a child out this much at all kinds of hours and not asking and finding out just where and what was going on. And yes, Craigs List should take down those ads regardless of how much money it mints them – at least make it harder for this business to be carried out on their list. Sounds like they are an accessory to the crime right now.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm |

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