Please read these words from sex trafficking survivors who were given refuge and assistance by the Fair Fund and Crittenton organizations.
Although we have not met, we are certain you would not want what happened to us or to thousands of girls like us to ever happen again.
Craig, I am AK. In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend, and my life as an average girl -- looking forward to college, doing my chores, and hanging out with my friends -- ended. This "boyfriend" soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life.
Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times. I personally know of over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site -- Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot. One Craigslist caller viciously brutalized me, threatening to dump my body in a river. Miraculously, I survived.
Craig, I am MC. I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold so many girls my age, his house was called "Daddy Day Care." All day, other girls and I sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist. He made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock -- and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car.
I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren't of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are of making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths.
Craig, we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out, and the men who arrange them very rich.
Craig, we know you oppose trafficking and exploitation. But right now, Craigslist is the choice of traffickers because it's so well known and there are rarely consequences to using it for these illegal acts. We've heard that the Adult Services section of Craigslist brings in $36 million a year by charging for these ads. These profits are made at the expense of girls like us, who are lured, kidnapped, and forced to feed the increasing demand for child rape. New traffickers are putting up ads every day, because they know it's less risky and more profitable to sell girls on Craigslist than to deal drugs.
Please, Craig, close down the Adult Services section. Saving even one child is worth it. It could have been us.
AK & MC
Survivors of Craigslist Sex Trafficking
Follow Malika Saada Saar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rights4girls