Update: On the heels of Craigslist's shutting down of their adult services section and Backpage.com'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 Change.org 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.
- Vice President of Advertising, The Washington Post
- Ombudsman, The Washington Post
I am shocked and disappointed that you accept advertisements for massage parlors and spas operating as brothels in the Washington, DC area. As shown by anti-trafficking organizations such as Polaris Project and others, many of these massage parlors are thinly veiled brothels in which women are subjected to force, coercion, and manipulation to provide commercial sex acts.
Other papers such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times have long refused advertising from massage parlors, spas, and similar business fronts because of their frequent connection to brothels, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. I expect the same from a paper of your prominence.
Your paper has been a tremendous force for good shining a light on social ills and human rights violations, but by facilitating sexual violence against women through ad placements you are risking a serious blight on your brand. This is a grave ethical lapse.
I strongly encourage you to stop accepting these advertisements and refuse to profit off the sexual violence and exploitation of women.
A disappointed but hopeful reader,
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