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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Craigslist a vital link between shady dealings and light of day

Craigslist has taken down its Adult Services section, which used to allow people to advertise “”adult”” or “”erotic”” services, after a group of state attorneys general wrote a letter stating that Craigslist lives in an “”imagined utopia,”” where “”every Adult Services advertisement is harmless until proven otherwise,”” and that “”increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution — including ads trafficking children — are rampant on it.””

Craigslist’s decision to shut down its Adult Services section could, however, serve to further hide prostitutes and human traffickers. Although the ads are controversial and their availability presents a problem for protective parents and sensitive eyes, the use of the web as a connecting tool between “”adult entertainers”” and those who seek them puts this activity on the map, making it easier to monitor.

The reality is that prostitutes will continue to seek clients, and vice versa, whether or not Craigslist and similar sites provide a means of communication.

To attempt to eliminate prostitution, pimps and trafficking would be a futile effort. Idealistically, these services should not be accessible at all, or only to those adamantly searching for it, not those who Google “”Craigslist massage chair”” and find a discreet suggestive message about how much an hour-long rubdown will cost.

In order to reach this ideal balance of keeping track of the activity while also censoring it, Craigslist will, as of now, eliminate the actual section Adult Services but not the ads themselves.

Instead of placing all the ads under one organized section, “”we would be dispersing them to other parts of the site,”” Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, told The Wall Street Journal. Although many argue that running these advertisements only creates a forum for traffickers and sexual abusers to flourish, allowing these advertisements to run is — ironically — a form of controlling this behavior by exposing it and making it easier to monitor.

The letter from the attorneys general stated that the Adult Services section should be shut down to “”end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads.”” The exploitation and victimization of these people will become entirely invisible without the advertisements. Trafficking and sexual abuse are not activities to be condoned or supported, and that is why the advertisements should continue to run.

The infamous “”Craigslist Killer”” case involving Philip Markoff, who answered Julissa Brisman’s ad in the erotic services section of Craigslist, proved the benefits of allowing these advertisements. Markoff arranged to meet Brisman at the Marriott Copley Place in Boston in April 2009, where he allegedly killed her. The charges against Markoff were dropped when he committed suicide inside a Boston jail cell. Without Brisman’s ad on Craigslist, her whereabouts and with whom she interacted with would be untraceable. Markoff could have found another young woman to kill, one whose location may have remained unknown for much longer.

Prostitution is a dangerous business and women involving themselves in it are safer when their business is documented. Furthermore, Craigslist now charges fees for placing an ad in the Adult Services section so as to enhance traceability through credit card transactions.

The battle is constant and comes full circle — to allow the ads is to support this behavior and to remove them is to make it impossible to monitor. Strip clubs and adult sex shops, while controversial, still exist with set of rules and appropriate conduct. Clearly this behavior is innate in our existence and will continue regardless of its lack of morality or acceptance in society. Fighting it completely and removing it from society’s radar would be turning a blind eye. Our best bet is putting prostitution and businesses associated with it on the map, enabling them to be vulnerable to suspicion and legal interference.

Alexandra Bortnik is a creative writing junior. She can be reached

at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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