A Logical Solution (on “Making Sex Workers Visible in the Village Voice Ad Controversy”)
As commented on Michelle Chen’s thoughtful piece, “Making Sex Workers Visible in the Village Voice Ad Controversy”:
Advertising online allows sex workers (of all types - let’s keep in mind that while the attacks on Backpage’s adult ads are focused on the escort section, phone, cam, and pro-BDSM workers also advertise on this site) to work in greater safety and to screen their clientele, weeding out a large number of unsafe characters that would be trickier to avoid if they - if we - were forced to “scrounge and organize [our] own business” as our only option.
Statistically, a large percentage of underage prostitution is street-based survival sex work. If we want to reduce underage prostitution, we need to put resources into support, shelter and services for teen runaways. Closing down a section of a site most commonly used by adult advertisers for child trafficking is simple bait-and-switch.
A better solution would be to add the option of age/photo verification to all adult services advertising sites. This is pretty basic, and is a step that can be taken voluntarily by ad sites - one which the vast majority of legit adult service providers seem happy to support (especially if opt-in). [Note: Eros Guide is discussing this option, and Preferred 411 already implements it; kudos!] Clients can then select a service provider with confidence, knowing s/he is both of age and the individual in the pictures. I have a sneaking suspicion the only ones who might not like this solution are folks who would rather pretend the issue doesn’t exist, and cops who use fake photos to set up stings…