Human trafficking is estimated to be the second largest criminal industry in the world, second only to the drug trade. Women and children in Ohio and across America have been effectively kidnapped, sold into a kind of modern slavery, and sexually abused.

Senator Portman has taken aggressive action to put an end to this horrific crime. For nearly two years, he has led a bipartisan investigation at the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI)—which he chairs—into the growing use of the internet for sex trafficking. Last night, that investigation concluded in a stunning report that reveals Backpage.com knowingly facilitated the criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and underage girls and covered up evidence of these crimes to increase its own profits.

Here’s what child protection organizations across the country are saying about Portman’s bipartisan investigation:

  • “NCMEC has strongly supported the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ work on the crime of online child sex trafficking, including the practices of Backpage. We commend the Subcommittee, especially Chairman Rob Portman and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, for their continued leadership on the investigation and their dedicated assistance to victims, survivors and their families. We look forward to continuing to work with Members of the Subcommittee and all others who are working tirelessly on halting the terrible tragedy of online child sex trafficking.”– The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, January 10, 2017
  • “A monumental step in the fight against sex trafficking in America…We applaud the many leaders who have worked towards this moment for years—from the survivor leaders and families who spoke out to share their stories and expertise, to the many determined lawyers, State Attorneys General, advocates, other law enforcement officials, and Members of Congress who have all shined a spotlight on how traffickers use Backpage to place ads and attract customers for commercial sex acts involving trafficking victims…We received nearly 2,000 reports of likely sex trafficking cases involving Backpage through operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the U.S…” – Polaris, January 10, 2017   
  • “ECPAT-USA strongly supports the groundbreaking work of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on Backpage. For years, Backpage has profited from the sale and exploitation of children, with no regard for their safety or well-being.  Any civilized society should ensure that its children are not bought and sold in the sex trade. We are grateful to the Senators on the Subcommittee for taking the lead to protect them.   We applaud this investigation which has uncovered how Backpage has acted as an online facilitator of child sex trafficking.  We hope the finding of the report lead to justice for the many victims who have been exploited through this platform.” – Carol Smolenski, Executive Director, ECPAT-USA
  • “Rights4Girls commends the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation’s recent report and examination of Backpage.com for its role in facilitating child sex trafficking. The Subcommittee’s report findings are beyond troubling and suggest that Backpage has played a much more significant role than previously believed by editing ads to remove words such as “schoolgirl,”or “amber alert” that strongly indicate child exploitation, instead of removing or reporting such ads…For years, survivors and their families have urged lawmakers to examine Backpage.com’s role in perpetuating online exploitation. We are grateful to Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill for leading these efforts to seek justice for the countless survivors exploited through Backpage.” – Yasmin Vafa, ‎Executive Director at Rights4Girls
  • “I want to thank you for your diligent workMany survivors, including myself, are rejoicing today…Human Trafficking in the United States is the second leading crime and the majority of these victims are sold online…I have seen many extremely young girls for sale on this site all across the country. My organizations fully support your efforts…” – Theresa Flores, Human Trafficking Survivor and Founder of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution
  • Thank you for speaking out…and working to protect children from being sold on Backpage. Our children are safer today because of it. In America, we should do everything in our power to protect our most precious resource, which is children.” – Celia Williamson, PhD, Director, Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute at the University of Toledo
  • “An injustice that goes unseen is an injustice that goes unchallenged. For that reason, the Senate report is particularly welcome. It shines a light on the reality of online exploitation, reminding us that the digital world is a world where too many women, children, and men are vulnerable to exploitation.” -- Lauren Hersh, National Director of World Without Exploitation
  • “As a survivor of the sex trade, I am deeply grateful that at last lawmakers are realizing that sexual exploitation is not ‘safer’ when it occurs online and outside of the public view. It is still exploitation. It still destroys lives.” – Ne’Cole Daniels, Founding Co-Chair of World Without Exploitation
  • “I am hopeful that this will send a clear message to other online facilitators that their criminal activities will not be tolerated.” – Valiant Richey, King County, Washington, Senior Deputy Prosecutor and World Without Exploitation partner 

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