As we continue our series on sex trafficking, we look at what is truly a world wide web for pimps and traffickers: the internet. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
There are thousands of internet ads offering what is clearly sex for sale, in plain view.
We've blurred many of the images, but some of the posts say, "Mature Gentlemen only! Call for prices!"
Another says, "Protection only! No, it’s NOT for Free!"
Lauren Hersh is a former Brooklyn prosecutor who now works for the advocacy organization Sanctuary for Families.
“Click this! 'Addictive, sweet, sexy playmate. A hundred percent real pictures, nineteen.' To me, whenever I see the numbers nineteen, I'm always like, 'Oh, this could be young,'" says Hersh.
She says with advancements on the internet, sex trafficking and prostitution is readily available.
Just turn on your phone, tablet or computer, and it’s there. Advocates say girls, teens and women often are drugged by pimps and traffickers.
"As one of the things that girls or women are required to do each day, she is required to post herself and the other women in what the trafficker will call 'the stable,' online," Hersh explains.
Advertising in each borough. Many of the websites urge users to call authorities about child exploitation and human trafficking.
Rachel Lloyd is the founder of GEMS—Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, which was established to help rescue victims.
She says she knows minors are being trafficked here in the city.
"For years it was Craigslist, was kind of the prime place. Now, there is Backpage and there are plenty of other sites that you can go on. Like you would order socks from Old Navy, you can go on and order up a young girl, a young woman,” Lloyd says.
The NYPD handles thousands of prostitution and sex trafficking cases per year, and its specialized vice squad responded to 200 calls for help in 2013.
The National Human Trafficking Resources Center handled nearly 32,000 calls last year for assistance and tips about trafficking.
Still, those numbers do not truly reflect the full magnitude of the underground sex industry.
FOR HELP AND INFORMATION ON SEX TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION
Sanctuary for Families: 212-349-6009.
Safe Horizon 24-hour Hotline: 800-621-4673.