In the Dec. 9 Gazette, a syndicated column by Karl Smith (“The case for safer sex work.”) tried to make an economic case for legalizing prostitution. He cited a study showing that now-defunct Craigslist sex ads led to a decline in female homicides, and said such ads make prostitution safer for sex workers.
Unfortunately, his column had a huge omission about the impact of those ads: they enabled massive amounts of sex trafficking (forced prostitution) of minors and adults. That’s why Congress in 2018 passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which motivated Craigslist to drop the ads. It’s also why the FBI and several other federal agencies seized backpage.com, a site like Craigslist that also ran sex ads featuring girls and women who didn’t choose to be there.
Smith observed that the “market for sex work expanded rapidly” with the growth of those online ads. Knowing this and the impact on trafficking victims, why would anyone with a conscience argue for making it easier to buy sex online?