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Dozens of local women stood in the pouring rain, wrapping the corner of Granville and Georgia to protest Backpage.com advertisements for prostitution services, and the facilitation of trafficking women and girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The protesters carried signs “Stop Backpage.com” and “I’m not for sale” and handed out leaflets with statistics about prostitution and trafficking.
Summer Rain, an organizer of the protest: “We chose the corner of Georgia St. and Granville St. because it’s where the Missing Women Inquiry is held and all the men there are talking about the lives and deaths of prostituted women. It is also an area of many corporate businesses and middle-class and upper-class men. Businessmen make up a large percentage of the men who are buying women and girls for prostitution, including through Backpage.com.”
The facts are grim: The average age of entry into prostitution in Canada is 12-14 years old; while in prostitution, over 80% of women suffer physical violence from pimps and buyers; and 92% of women in prostitution say they would leave prostitution immediately if they could.
In spite of the gloomy weather many of the passers-by were clearly interested and stopped to ask questions or to applaud the protesters for taking a stand against prostitution and trafficking of women. Significant number of young men expressed disapproval of buying women and girls in prostitution. Summer Rain: “It is very encouraging to speak to men who believe that sexual exploitation of women is wrong”.
The local protest was one of several similar actions in the US and Canada, organized in conjunction with The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) . As women in Vancouver were also protesting this form of sexual exploitation, CATW took to the streets in New York in front of Village Voice Media, the owner of Backpack.com. According to CATW, Backpage.com encourages and fuels the male demand for the sexual services of prostituted women, with no consequences for the men who are buying selling and trafficking women and girls. This website operates in over 400 cities around the world. Backpage.com creates a virtual red light district for pimps traffickers and johns, and Backpage.com directly profits of the buying and selling of women’s bodies for the purpose of sex.