Kristof: Help Stop Sex Trafficking

Conchita Sarnoff
The Huffington Post
New York, NY

Nicholas Kristof reported in Sunday's New York Times Magazine that Goldman Sachs owns a 16% stake of Village Voice Media. Village Voice Media in turn owns Backpage; and "Backpage replaced Craigslist as the leader in the prostitution online ad space" according to an October 19, 2010 report published by AIMGROUP.COM, publishers of classified intelligence reports.

For years no one had uncovered the Village Voice ownership until Kristof started the search. Kristof said "the owners of Village Voice Media include a group of private equity financiers, comprising Goldman Sachs, who own a 16 percent stake." Kristof also reported that Goldman Sachs "was mortified when he made inquiries last week about its investment in America's leading Web site for prostitution ads." According to his report Goldman Sachs "began working frantically to unload its shares," and on Friday afternoon [March 30, 2012], the investment bank told Kristof "it had just signed an agreement to sell its stake to management." "We had no influence over operations," Andrea Raphael, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman," told Kristof.

Almost two years earlier, reported that "Village Voice Media, with its classifieds site, was the new leader in prostitution advertising now that Craigslist eliminated its erotic services ad section in the United States". According to Kristof's Sunday op-ed, Backpage is an "emporium for girls and women -- some under age or forced into prostitution."

Like Craigslist, most escort ads on Backpage are placed by consenting adults. However, it's also evident that Backpage plays a major role in the sex trafficking of minors. Kristof cited "a recent case in New York City where prosecutors claimed that a 15-year-old girl was drugged, tied up, raped and sold to johns through Backpage and other sites."

Read more here.