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October 20, 2014
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Claire Haynes (334) 242-7351
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(MONTGOMERY) – Attorney General Luther Strange today urged members of
the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to support legislation that would help prevent
children from being trafficked on the internet.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world,
generating about $150 billion each year. There are numerous cases nationally of
children as young as 12 being used in prostitution. The FBI estimates that nearly 300,000
American youths are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
“The great tragedy is while human trafficking is a pervasive and fast-growing
crime, it is often undetected,” said Attorney General Strange. “Victims may go
unrecognized and not even realize that what is being done to them is illegal or that they
can ever escape. Victims are isolated from those who might help them, and trapped in a
terrifying web of violence, intimidation and control. We are asking Congress to pass
legislation that would help in breaking this web and freeing its victims.”
In a letter co-sponsored by the Indiana and Washington attorneys general, and
joined by 53 attorneys general, Attorney General Strange asked members of the Senate
Judiciary Committee for their support of the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation
(SAVE) Act (S. 2536), which would provide more oversight of websites that facilitate
“adult services,” such as Backpage.com.
Attorney General Strange said federal courts have recognized that the internet
has become a favored means for advertising the availability of children for sex. Internet
ads can be purchased in multiple locations with the click of a button. This allows
human traffickers to maximize their profit and evade detection by moving victims
quickly to lucrative venues where there is significant demand for commercial sex.
Attorney General Strange said organized crime groups and street gangs use the internet
to sell their victims as well, which is why passage of the SAVE Act is particularly
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The use of the “adult services sections” on websites such as Backpage.com has
created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold using euphemistic labels
such as “escorts.” The SAVE Act would require these websites that are facilitating
trafficking through their business model to take steps to verify the identity of
individuals posting advertisements and the age of those who appear in these
In just one week this June, law enforcement arrested 281 alleged sex traffickers
and took 168 children out of prostitution in a nationwide FBI crackdown where many
child victims were offered for sale on “escort” and other “adult services” websites.
Preventing kids from being trafficked on the internet has been a long-term
interest of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG has taken
several actions regarding Backpage.com and similar websites, including requesting that
these exploitive websites shut down their “adult services” sections which fuel the
online trafficking of youth.
The states and territories that signed today’s letter are: Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia,
Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi,
Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico,
New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.