Craiglist.org the uber popular virtual swapmeet/ garage.bulleting/ board/ dating service/ kitchen sink has removed their ‘Erotic Services’ section. If you go looking for this part of the site now, you’ll just find a banner that reads ‘Censored’. Under pressure from 16 states in the US, CL has decided to remove their erotic ads, despite their being no legal basis at the moment for them to do so. This is a real step backwards for everyone in the online community, and sex workers throughout the US.
While the ‘Erotic Services’ section of the site has been criticized by many people as a front for prostitiution, that’s not really the case. While prostitution may be conducted through some of the ads, just as many vanilla options, like stripper-grams for a bachelor party, or a hunky fireman for a girl’s night out are available as well. In fact, although it isn’t making headlines, Craigslist is a very effective activist organization that has been working hard to improve the lives of sex workers, victims of human trafficking and violent crimes against women. Whether you agree with prostitution or not, it goes on. It isn’t known as ‘The World’s Oldest Profession’ because it’s a fly-by-night industry on the verge of disappearing.
While many of the detractors have called Craiglist a ‘virtual pimp’ or ‘e-whorehouse’, they have in fact been doing a lot to make the sex industry safer. Here’s 3 reasons why the ‘Erotic Services’ section needs to be re-instated.
1. Every single ‘Erotic Services’ ad posted on Craigslist it reviewed, by hand, by an attorney. That’s right, a living breathing, leagle eagle with credentials eyeballs them to check for anything illegal. What other website provides oversite like that? Having a human review the ads makes it easier to spot real criminal activity, and report it the authorities.
2. Craigslist has been proactive in fighting human trafficking. Though they won’t get into the specifics, to protect the victims, many law enforcement agencies have applauded the help they have received from Craiglist in tracking down and catching the perpetrators of human trafficking in the US. They have provided data, assistance and cooperation in many causes that have resulted in victims being found and freed, and criminals sent to jails. Do they sound like the bad guys?
3. Craigslist provides access to resources to keep sex workers safe. Throughout the “Erotic Services” section of CL, there are warning, links and information to help sex workers remain safe. The site provides info, phone numbers, warning and links on practicing safe sex, preventing STD’s and work programs to people who want to find a different line of work. If people are going to engage in risky behaviors, it’s better they do so well informed of the risks, and ways to make these behaviors more safe.
Since prostitution isn’t going anywhere soon, shouldn’t we make it as safe as possible? Craigslist is doing much more than the rest of the sex industry to make a difference in people’s lives. I think they do great, necessary work, and it’s time health professionals and the general public drop the moral posturing and make a decision that makes sense.