By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CRAIGSLIST told Congress on September 15 that the ubiquitous web classifieds site was closing its adult section.
Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark memorably applied the label "Censored" in his classifieds where adult advertising once appeared.
During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Village Voice Media, which owns this newspaper, owns the classified site Backpage.com. In addition to used cars, jobs, and couches, readers can also find adult ads on Backpage; for this reason, Women's Funding Network and their allies have often called attention to the site, sometimes going so far as to call for its closure.
Certainly we have a stake in this discussion. And we do not object to those who suggest an apparent conflict of interest. We sat quietly and did not respond as the WFN held symposiums across America—from Seattle to Miami—denouncing Backpage. Indeed, we were never asked for response.
But then we looked at the "science" and the media's willingness to regurgitate, without question, these incredible statistics. In the interest of a more informed discussion, we decided to write.
The congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding Network. She told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.
"An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states," Richardson claimed. "Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase."
In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson's disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women's Funding Network.
None of the media that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of Richardson's claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It's junk science.
After all, the numbers are all guesses.
The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. There is no science.
Eric Grodsky, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches about proper research construction, says that the study is fundamentally flawed.
"The method's not clean," Grodsky says. "You couldn't get this kind of thing into a peer-reviewed journal. There are just too many unanswered questions about their methodology."
Ric Curtis, the chairman of the Anthropology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, led a Justice Department-funded study on juvenile prostitution in New York City in 2008. He's highly skeptical of the claims in the Women's Funding Network's study.
"I wouldn't trust those numbers," Curtis says. "This new study seems pretty bogus."
In fact, the group behind the study admits as much. It's now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.
"We pitch it the way we think you're going to read it and pick up on it," says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. "If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I've tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, 'They won't read that much.'"
A FUTURE NOT a Past is a product of the Atlanta Women's Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Fund, and Harold and Kayrita Anderson's foundation. To measure the amount of juvenile prostitution in the state, the consortium hired the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta business-consulting operation.
The Schapiro Group members weren't academic researchers, and had no prior experience studying prostitution. In fact, the group was best known for research paid for by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. The study found—surprise—that membership in the Chamber of Commerce improves a business's image.
The consultants came up with a novel, if not very scientific, method for tabulating juvenile prostitutes: They counted pictures of young-looking women on online classified sites.
"That's one of the first problems right there," Grodsky says. "These advertisers are in the business of making sales, and there's a market for young-looking women. Why would you trust that the photographs are accurate?"
In other words, the ads, like the covers of women's magazines, are relentlessly promoting fantasy. Anyone who has tried online dating understands the inherent trouble with trusting photographs.
Even if the person placing the advertisement is the one in the picture, there's no telling how old the photo is, says David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
"How do you know when the pictures were taken?" Finkelhor asks. "It's not illegal for an 18-year-old who's selling sex to put up a picture of herself from when she was 16."
And if, for the sake of argument, the photos were an accurate portrayal, how do you train those viewing the photographs to guess the correct age?
In fact, you don't.
Before conducting its full study, the Schapiro Group tested the accuracy of its method in a sample of 100 observers. At one point, the 100 observers are described as a "random sample." Elsewhere, they are described as "balanced by race and gender."
These 100 adults were shown pictures of teenagers and young adults whose ages were known, and were asked to guess whether they were younger than 18.
What in the hell incentive does anyone have - besides conservative religious zealots - to fabricate growing recognition for illegal sex trafficking? And furthermore, why is age and not consent the central issue in sex trafficking? So tired of hearing about who is in front of the camera, hardly any resources (aside from marketing and sales energy) goes towards analyzing the wankers on the other side and all of the societal "go-aheads" we endorse as a whole.
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Super Bowl 2011:
According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM?????
WHERE ARE THE THOUSANDS OF SUPER BOWL KIDNAPPED FORCED CHILD SEX SLAVES???????
Politicians, women's groups, police and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl.
It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, Polaris Project, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations. As proved in the links below:
Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:
“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”
This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.
Brian McCarthy isn't happy. He's a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he's forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.
These anti-prostitution groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.
Below are the few brave souls that told the truth in the media:Sex Trafficking in Sports Events links:
Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:
Dallas Newspaper article:
Washington post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/...
News night BBC video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
Nick Davies - About Truth in the Media:
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barry bonds is currently on trial for lying to congress... perhaps the women's funding network is next...
Typical typical Houston Press, so when do we draw the line? maybe these #'s arent perfectly correct, however i'm sure there close in numbers. Plus incase you didnt know we do live near a country whose goverment continues to push their ppl out therefore leaving girls and children vulnerable to drug lords and sex traffickers... i free speech too but when do ethics and commensense ever play a role?
There ought to be a law about fraudulent studies and non-profits, and the like. Come to think of it, RICO ought to work just fine.
Yes, the public will believe almost any study presented to them. They don't understand scientific methodology. I've always been quite skeptical of studies backed by the U.S. Government concerning recreational drugs.
The Houston Press and its sister publications wrote long cover stories about how their lucrative Backpage franchise was besmirched by a questionable study linking it to sex trafficking. Now that we know Village Voice Media is gravely concerned about proper academic research into the sex industry, I am certain they will want to commission other studies. Here are some suggestions:--percentage of Backpage adult ads which are for prostitution--how many of those prostitutes have sexually transmitted diseases and how many of those who do engage in risky sexual activity with Backpage customers--how many work for pimps--how many have been coerced, intimidated, or otherwise exploited by pimps--how many are under 18--how many are in the country illegally--how many of those here illegally were brought here under false pretenses--how many of those in the country illegally are working to pay off smuggling fees--how many of those working to pay off smuggling fees are doing so under threats to themselves and/or their families back home
Who knows? Maybe that study would reveal that while the "mainstream media" was "duped" by this flawed study, you as the "alternative media" have been "duped" by all those who clicked on "I agree."
Or maybe you simply don't care, so long as those ads continue to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for your publications.
As a person who studies methodology, this type of stuff is prevalent and not really new in this country, and I'm even surprised y'all are even discussing this being that it's more frequent than researchers would like to admit. Both drug legalization lobbies and the US regularly make up numbers on amount of drugs trafficked to the US based on captures, which aren't a good measure of the metric tonnage of drugs illegally trafficked to the US. The Global Terrorism Database, a website I regularly use for research, documents many cases of "terror attacks" that may just be crimes against property and not a terrorist targeting property, because no one claims credit or people randomly assign credit. This is more common in Global South countries with limited information where newspapers conjecture over who started what.
Not exactly news, in my opinion.
A few sentences that come to my mind after reading this article:- lie, lie, lie, at some point it will stick- the best statistics are the ones that prove what I want to prove- if YOU have financial problems or some other problems form an NGO or foundation with a great sounding name and all YOUR problems will be solved.
I actually want to congratulate HP for making this kind of articles. Its the kind of journalistic work I cannot find in major newspapers except maybe for NY Times and Washing Post. The rest only pull cables and news-wires that I can read in the net about 12 hours before I get the newspaper from my doorstep.
What a joke. If I could only muster up the greed to falsify a study about some morally reprehensible act then maybe I wouldn't be two months behind on my mortgage. Advocacy for profit is just as disgusting as child sex trafficking, and probably more rampant as well.
The shame in this is the "cry wolf" effect. Legitimate efforts to end child prostitution (which IS a valiant cause) will suffer the way envoronmental efforts suffered when emails were published indicating greenhouse gas research had been fabricated. In the end, dollars will be pulled back. Dollars that could have actually prevented some sex trafficing. So, congrats to McCullough and now being responsible for an increase in sex trafficing.
This is shameful and laughable. Calling it junk science is guilding the lily. This is simply out and out fraud. The Schapiro group is simply telling lies to get funding from various organizations and they should be prosecuted.
If you just want to make up things to support your point of view and call it a study, that's what this is. The moon is made of green cheese comes to mind.
Not only do people on prostitution sites publish old pictures of themselves, women on legitimate dating sites and I presume men also post old pictures of themselves. I wouldn't attribute an ounce of credibility to such a study.
If we were smart, rather than religious, we would legalize prostitution. We could then regulate and tax it, ensure that STD's are at a minimum, and lessen the need for pimps and the abuses they engage in. And there would be no problem with advertising it either.What two consenting adults do sexually is nobody's business, for money or not.
Underage prostitution, however, is another story entirely.
It has nothing to do with religion. Sweden is the most secular country and prostitution isn't legal there. Drugs aren't legal there either, and the government has a monopoly on the production and distribution of alcohol. Legalized prostitution is actually being seen as a problem in Amsterdam because it attracts unsavory elements.
Governments have interests in prostitution other than a dubious religious argument or a need to legislate morality. Seedy enterprises such as drugs, prostitution, and strip clubs attract very shady elements. Strip clubs are legal in the US and organized crime runs them, so you don't take the seedy element out. They're also centers for illegal drug use and trafficking.
Using your argument, we should legalize dog and cockfighting because we can tax it and consenting adults engage in animal fighting. I worked at an animal shelter and they had to call in the ATF and DEA because of what they were associated with.