Federal shutdown of classifieds website signals positive step in - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Federal shutdown of classifieds website signals positive step in the fight against human trafficking


Human trafficking happens behind closed doors, in the dark, and online. But it just got a little harder for those involved in this trade to buy and sell human beings. 

The FBI seized the classifieds website Backpage.com.  This sit has repeatedly come under fire for its controversial adult section with allegations of prostitution and sex trafficking of minors. 

"I think it's a great step.  Any effort that disables a space where people can be sold for the use and abuse of someone else is a good thing, it's a positive step in the right direction," says Jennifer Cacciapaglia who heads Rockford's Office on Combating Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. 

Cacciapaglia says while this is a step in the right direction, we need significantly more actions like this. 

"There are plenty of other sites. They're going to have to seize all of them to get a handle on the internet activity. Quite frankly don't know how they get a full handle on internet activity because so much of it is underground." 

"Chat rooms, blog sites, unfortunately people who are into human trafficking know where to go to get the information," says Rockford Police Investigations Lieutenant Kurt Whisenand.  

Whisenand says a big part of getting a handle on this issue locally is combating domestic violence, which officers say typically goes hand in hand with human trafficking. 

"The same manipulation, power and exploitation, and control.  It's has has the same foundation, domestic violence and human trafficking,"says Whisenand.  

Meanwhile Cacciapaglia says awareness is key. She also stresses the importance of having conversations with kids about what healthy relationships look like, and to talk to them about the dangers of this trade. 

"We have to talk to our young men, we have to talk to our young men that it is not normal to buy a human being for sex we have to make a shift in that conversation, the most critical thing we can do is address awareness." 

The shutdown of Backpage.com comes as Craigslist shuts down its personal ad page, which also came under fire as a space for human exploitation. 

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