Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has joined a bipartisan coalition of his peers from around the country in an effort to try to reduce the role that the Internet plays in the commercial sex trade, especially as it pertains to underage teens.
They want Congress to amend the federal Communication Decency Act of 1996, which in effect gives immunity to such well-known websites as Craigslist and backpage.com, even though some of what is advertised on those sites clearly amounts to statutory rape and child abuse.
Olens and the other AGs say managers of such sites are well aware that words like “young” and “tender” are commonly used to advertise child prostitution.
The changes being sought would allow states to go after child-sex rings by prosecuting the operators of websites that further prostitution.
“Investigators regularly find links between the commercial sale of children and the ads,” Olens said.
It is well that Olens is involved, as it is well known that Atlanta is a major hub in this country’s commercial sex trade, especially in terms of child prostitution.
“Because of Atlanta’s location, airport and infrastructure, the FBI identified it as one of the top sex trafficking hubs in the United States,” noted U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, who supports Olens’ effort and who also was quoted in Sunday’s Marietta Daily Journal story on the issue.
A 2009 study by The Schapiro Group indicated an average of more than 400 adolescent girls working in Georgia each month as prostitutes, either via escort services, major hotels, online or on the streets. Most of them service an average of three clients a day, the study said.
Most of them are native Georgians who come from broken homes and have suffered from molestation or other abuse at the hands of family members or friends prior to them becoming prostitutes.
Olens and the other AGs want Congress to allow local governments to prosecute the managers of websites that list classified ads that offer underage sex.
Prostitution and pimping are already illegal. So it’s hard to see why advertising for such services — especially when the young girl or boy being marketed is underage, and when that underage status is the primary focus of the ad — is allowed.
Rather than continuing to wink at the problem, Congress should pay heed to the attorneys general and amend and improve the law in question.