Tell the Washington Post to Stop Supporting Brothels
  • Petitioned Ken Babby

This petition was delivered to:

Vice President of Advertising, The Washington Post
Ken Babby
Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Andrew Alexander

Tell the Washington Post to Stop Supporting Brothels

    1. Sponsored by


September 2010


The Washington Post was one of the few major newspapers in the U.S. which advertised for massage parlors and escort services, often used as thin veneers for brothels full of trafficked women. After Polaris Project and other anti-trafficking organizations, as well as over 4,000 members, asked them to stop advertising for trafficking, they did. Now, this success has inspired other activists to ask their local papers to pull similar ads

Update: On the heels of Craigslist's shutting down of their adult services section and's lawsuit from a child trafficking survivor, The Washington Post has announced they will no longer run ads for massage parlors. The announcement comes after over 3,400 readers and several NGOs complained that these massage parlors are often fronts for human trafficking operations. The WaPo's decision exemplifies the continued trend of businesses making socially responsible decisions

The Washington Post is one of the few remaining large U.S. newspapers that accept advertisements for massage parlors, many of which are thinly veiled, legal fronts for brothels.  The women in many of these brothels are lured by human traffickers under the guise of a legitimate job but then forced into prostitution, subjected to manipulation and false promises, threatened with harm to family members, and/or coerced through debt bondage.

The Washington Post is one of the primary sources used to find these types of brothels in DC Metro Area, through ads in the Sports section.  The Washington Post's disregard for this reality and lack of action to stop the ads makes it complicit in sex trafficking and sexual violence against women. 

Most other well respected newspapers, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times have long banned advertising for certain massage parlors, spas, and other related fronts because of their connection to brothels.  However, The Washington Post is not only turning a blind eye to the victims of human trafficking in brothels, but also profiting from advertising them.

Help end The Washington Post's support for and advertising of brothels by letting them know that it is unacceptable and inexcusable, and that they should stop advertising for them immediately.   Please take action by signing and adding your own message below (as individualized letters are more effective than form letters), and sending it to The Post today.

Recent signatures


    1. Five Things Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Web 2.0 Donors

      by Polaris

      Over the last few years we've heard a lot of discussion about nonprofits and their use "Web 2.0" and social media. Much of the focus has been on the fundraising tools themselves [namely "Apps" and "widgets"]... What are they? How do they work? Do...

    2. 10 Twitter Tips for Nonprofit Organizations

      by Polaris

      Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

    3. Is the Washington Post a Paper Pimp?

      by Polaris

      Ever wonder where traffickers advertise their victims?  Turns out it's in one of the nation's most prestigious newspapers - The Washington Post.  Advertisements for massage parlors that are often fronts for brothels selling trafficked women are run...


    Develop your own tools to win.

    Use the API to develop your own organizing tools. Find out how to get started.