STATEMENT: Senate Holds Backpage CEO in Contempt; NCOSE Compares Backpage to African Slave Trade Company

NCOSE Press Statement logo

Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE

Washington, DC – Led by Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, the Senate voted today to hold’s CEO in contempt of Congress. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) applauds this decision and insists that Backpage be held accountable for its role in facilitating sex trafficking and prostitution.

“Backpage’s facilitation of sex trafficking and prostitution is equivalent to the East India Company’s facilitation of the African slave trade,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “ is unapologetic about its business model based on sexual exploitation, as shown by the fact that its CEO skipped the Senate hearing meant to address it. Backpage has earned at least $39 million from online prostitution ads, and the website typically posts around 1 million ads for sex a day. No wonder Backpage doesn’t want to put a stop to the sale of men, women, and children for sex when it is so lucrative for its bottom line. We applaud the United States Senate for taking a stand against this insatiable and destructive corporation, and affirm that Backpage must be held accountable for its promotion of sexual exploitation.”

“Further, it is important that Backpage is denounced not only for its ads featuring victims of sex trafficking but also for its ads featuring prostituted men and women,” Hawkins added. “Prostitution is inherently exploitive and damaging, not to mention illegal activity in which mainstream companies should not be engaged. Prostitution and sex trafficking are intrinsically linked and feed into one another, and so it is necessary that both are completely removed from Backpage.”

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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