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The National Organization for Women is praising The Brooklyn Paper for becoming the first newspaper in the borough to join NOW’s campaign to ban ads for “escort services” and “massages” — ads that many believe support human trafficking and prostitution rings.
Publisher Celia Weintrob said The Brooklyn Paper has not accepted such ads for many years, and its position long predates NOW’s campaign.
“We don’t accept ads for escort services or sensual massages,” said Weintrob.
Other newspapers, of course, do — and advertisers try to use that fact as a bargaining chip to get their ads in The Brooklyn Paper, Weintrob said.
“Over the years, people have asked us if we could run an ad by saying, ‘We’ve run this in the Courier and would like to run it in your paper.’â€ˆ”
But The Brooklyn Paper has always stood its ground while other newspapers have become “the marketing arm of the human trafficking business,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of NOW, which is running the “Traffic-free in NYC” campaign
Ossorio cited a federal study that documented 250 brothels with trafficking victims in 26 cities, including New York.
“It’s all so blatant,” said Ossorio. “Traffickers are brazenly operating here in New York.”
Typically, said Ossorio, women “are duped” into immigrating to the United States with promises of work as nannies or housekeepers. But once they arrive, the story often changes.
“There are different ways that traffickers operate,” said Ossorio. “They can beat them. Or they can tell them, ‘Oh the restaurant job didn’t work out … so you’re going to have to start paying us off, and prostitution is the only way to do it.’”
She said the extent of the human trafficking problem in Brooklyn is unclear.
The Justice Department refused to comment, citing pending human trafficking prosecutions. And the NYPD, which has a human trafficking squad, declined repeated requests for information.
Because it’s unclear which escort services are merely fronts for prostitution rings, Ossorio recommends that newspapers reject all ads for escort services and make sure that all “massage” and “body service” companies are licensed by the state.
So far, nine publications have signed on to the pledge, including Time Out New York and Hoy. The New York Post-owned Courier-Life chain continues to publish ads for escort services and massages.
Its publisher, Dan Holt, did not return repeated requests for comment.
Ossorio looked over Courier-Life’s ads for “Beautiful Russian Girls, Anytime! Anywhere!” and “Extreme Escorts” and called them “very suspect.”
“Russian girls?” she said. “Trafficking aside, it’s clearly prostitution, which is illegal. It’s women for sale by the dozens, it seems.”
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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