Anti-sex trafficking advocates celebrate small victory in decision

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 07:53:26-05

When executives removed its adult section, they protested what they call "government censorship," while advocates against sex trafficking celebrated a small victory. 

Among them is Kathleen Winn, the Executive Director of AZ Men -- an organization aimed to protect children from sex trafficking and also promote respect among adults. 

Winn has been fighting the website for more than six years. She began the battle while working at the Arizona Attorney General's Office and later while working with the Phoenix Police Department's vice squad. 

"They're providing a venue where people are used to using it, they believe they're anonymous and you order up a girl like you order up a pizza," said Winn.

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While Winn says news of the shutdown felt like a belated Christmas gift, she told ABC15 the ads would soon be back up. 

"They did it voluntarily but I believe it's a ruse, a way to push back and say 'We're not going to put our ads in the adult section but now there on other parts of Backpage,'" Winn told ABC15.

We found the racy adult ads still on Backpage's site...but in a different section and still selling the obvious.

One ad advertising a "petite for your pleasure" actually wrote, "They may have shut down the other section, but they can't shut me down." 

Another ad offered "bedside assistance" day or night, while a third for a "Date night with your sensual cocoa goddess" directed responders to an escort service web address. 

"There's a demand for this and until the demand is addressed there will be people who provide this just like drugs, just like weapons," Winn explained.

Winn says while the battle and the industry may seem too big to fight, every person can make a difference by just refusing to click or add to it. 

"It destroys families, it destroys lives. The people being bought and sold sometimes never in a lifetime recover," said Winn.

ABC15 reached out to through its website email asking for comment, but did not receive a response.