The abuse of Craigslist for the use of prostitution
With the advent of internet, social network services have been blossoming in every corner of the world. These social network services helps in building “communities” where people of similar interest and activities meet and interact. These networks have indeed changed the outlook of today’s world on how to make friends and interact with each other. Also the increase in popularity of these communities is getting more and more people involved in it (e commerce trends, 2009). Among many of these online networking communities Craigslist is one of them which had featured online classified advertisements and social communities for meeting up new friends. Though there are different age groups involved in these social networking, Craigslist has 62% of it members from 25-44 years old (McMillan, 2009, p. 1-2). Reports claim that today’s youth spend as much time on networking as they would spend on television (approximately 9 to 10 hours a day) (Barnes, 2006 & 2007). Thus these websites do have a major impact on shaping up their lives and dictate the way they choose their friends and interact with them.
In recent times, these networking sites have also had its fair share of disadvantages. Lack of privacy or proper moderators to these sites have caused infiltration of social enemies like child predators, identity thieves and more. More commonly, increased number of prostitution has been reported on these communities. Illinois Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart reported that “Craigslist is the single largest source of prostitution in the nation”. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported that more that 2000 missing children and adolescents are involved in sex trade under the presumption of social networking through Craigslist (Antony, 2009). With large number of youngsters using this website the opportunity for them to fall prey to these sex trades is highly increased. Thus social networking websites pose a real threat to today’s society and youth in maintaining their integrity and moral values.
Typically, the victims who are involved in prostitution are been introduced in communities where members who are single or looking for a partners may land. These prostitutes are advertised as being single and wanting to have a good friend. Unwary members fall for these traps and start up a friendly conversation with them and then lands up into this sex trade. Alternatively there are also people who are on lookout for prostitutes and craigslist provides a good cover as a website for advertising one’s unpretentious needs.
The root cause of the problem can well be explained using the Conflict theory in sociology. A Wisconsin study showed that approximately 79% of girls in juvenile justice have been a victim of physical abuse by their family member. Also 60% among them have been sexually abused (Chesney-Lind, 1989, pg. 5-29). The unhealthy and oppressed childhood or adolescent environment would prompt these kids to run away from home. Every year, thousands of girls are being pushed out of their family making them to engage in prostitution and sex trade for easy money. They also get involved into drugs and other addictive behaviors pushing them to lead a criminal lifestyle according to the society.
Websites like craigslist which are used by thousands of local Americans and provide a cover for their illegitimate sex operations allowing them to escape the brutal force of Law. Thus, the inequality of genders addressed by the Conflict theorist, need to be addressed urgently to curb prostitution and victimizing females in our society. In recent times, craigslist and many other social networking websites have come under scrutiny where their day to day activities are checked and restricted by the law officials in an attempt to curb the sex trade. Yet no decisive step has been formed by the law to help and protect these young girls from the hands of prostitution enabling them to lead a morally healthy life.
2. MacMillan, D. (2009, May 22). Craigslist Fuels Online Classified-Ad Surge. Business Week. (Internet) pp 1-2. www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2009/tc20090522_861316.htm
3. Barnes, S. (2006) A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States. First Monday, September. Retrieved 20 February 2008 from www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_9/barnes/index.html
4. Boyd, D. M. & Ellison, N.B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.
5. Antony, C. (2009, March 5). Lawsuit accuses craigslist of promoting prostitution. Internet article. Pg 1-2
6. Chesney-Lind, M. (January 1989) “Girls’ Crime and Woman’s Place: Toward a Feminist Model of Female Delinquency.” Crime and Delinquency, 35, 5-29.