Can you imagine seeing your missing daughter in a prostitution ad? Parents shared their real-life nightmares in the new documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” which takes a sobering look at the child sex trafficking industry facilitated by websites like Backpage.com.
“It’s horrifying, and it’s happening, and people are making millions of dollars on it,” Glenn said on radio Monday while introducing director Mary Mazzio.
She talked about her horrifying revelation that children were being enslaved in droves in the U.S. as well as what Backpage does to help sex traffickers find clients who will rape children by the hour. Backpage and other sites have been allowed to host ads selling children, getting away with it by filtering out terms like “Lolita” or “amber alert” before publishing the ads pimping out kids anyway.
“People call this human trafficking … that’s kind of a sanitized term,” Mazzio said. “What we’re talking about is serial child rape. These children are carted from motel room to motel room.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: There’s some things that don’t matter at all. Some things that matter a lot. But what matters most?
We’re being sucked into things that, really, don’t matter at all. We’re being sucked into arguments about free speech and safe zones that, quite honestly, I’m sorry, if you’re on a college campus, get over it. There are going to be some communists that you are talking to you. And there are going to be some Nazis that are talking to you, and they all have a right to say it. There are going to be some pro-global warming people and some anti-global warming people. You’re on a college campus. Get over it. That’s where you should be challenged on everything that you think. That’s why there is tenure, so somebody can ask outrageous questions. We’re not a society that was built on timidity. We have to be able to challenge each other.
So Hollywood, college campuses, communists, Nazis, the NFL, one, a right to stand. You have a right to take a knee. Because, quite honestly, that’s a sideshow. Anybody else feel like you were in the Roman Colosseum this weekend? Real things are happening, that actually matter. And we’re watching — we’re watching lions and Christians. What are we doing?
There is free speech. And there’s an argument that — it is the argument that has to be made that speech must be protected. And the only kind of speech that has to be protected is the speech that the majority doesn’t like.
However, there are people that hide behind free speech. And they do real damage. Right now, in Congress, they are talking about the Communications Act and the Communications Decency Act of 1996. And there is — there is something that came from The Village Voice, it’s called the Backpage. And it is the literal auction platform for slavery today.
And people have been trying to shut this down for quite some time, and they have some really good attorneys.
This needs to be heard by you. There is a movie that is out, that just came out. It’s on Netflix and i Tunes and Vimeo and Google Play, Amazon DVD. It is called I Am Jane Doe. Parents — it’s hard to watch. It’s parents who sent their kids off to school one day, and they didn’t come back. Kids that left home and didn’t come back, until their parents found them being sold on the Backpage of the Village Voice. It’s horrifying, and it’s happening. And people are making millions of dollars on it.
A woman who didn’t know anything about human trafficking just a few years ago is the producer and director of I Am Jane Doe. And she’s with em now. Mary Mazzio. Hi, Mary, how are you?
MARY: Glenn, how are you this morning? Thank you for having me on.
GLENN: You’re welcome. So explain to the audience exactly what’s happening.
MARY: So this started, Glenn, when I read an article in the Boston Globe about Jane Doe number one, Jane Doe number two, and Jane Doe number three, age 13, 14, and 15 years old, that sued backpage.com and the Village Voice empire for — for compensation for injuries they sustained by virtue of being bought and sold for commercial sex online. And people call this human trafficking and sex trafficking. And sex trafficking of minors. That’s kind of a sanitized term, right?
What we’re talking about is serial child rape, right?
These children are carted from motel room to motel room. They are with the admin of technology, right? They’re schedule on the hour by the hour.
And I had not a clue that this was happening in numbers that would make your head spin in this country. I think, like most Americans, I assumed this was happening in developing countries, right? Where children are bought and sold for sex.
And when I read this article, I remember thinking, “What the hell?” This is ten minutes from where I live. Jane Doe one, two, and three. And they’re represented, by the way, by Ropes & Gray, one of sort of the oldest white-shoe law firms in the country. And, oh, by the way, how did Ropes & Gray get the case? Like, how did they lose their motion, right? How did they lose this lawsuit?
That made no sense to me. And I’m a recovering lawyer, which is like highly irritating to many people, by the way. But I’m really thinking at the time — I read the decision, and I remember thinking, “How is it legal in this country for websites like Backpage — and there are many others, by the way, to host ads selling children? How is that legal? And yet, it is.
GLENN: Okay. So now — so people understand, this is some — you know, this comes from The Village Voice. And a lot of people on the left were protecting The Village Voice. And they were like, “No. There’s no way they understand. There’s no way this is happening.” Because to a lot of people on the left, The Village Voice is, you know, the voice of a generation, and a hero outlet to many.
MARY: Oh, yeah. Fighting — fighting truth to power, right? I mean, exposing corruption. Exposing wrongdoing.
And yet — and listen, I’m a liberal, right? I swing very left. And it pains me, right? That Backpage and the Village Voice — and we’ll talk about Google in a minute. But the dirty little secret to all the alternative weeklies was that their editorial was supported by the sex ad. And, listen, back in the ’70s, it was free love, free sex, right? Whatever goes. And I think the term — the lexicon around human trafficking, nobody really started talking about it until ten years ago, 12 years ago. What is it? And I think that really exposed — what you said before, this is — particularly as it relates to children, modern day slavery. And the numbers are escalating with technology online. And what I mean by that is that the problem is getting worse, rather than better. There’s an estimate of around 15 percent of all homeless and runaway children, will be victimized. And when you think about the numbers, there’s anywhere between 1.6 and 2.5 million children on the street at any one time.
Fifteen percent of those children — oh, my God, we’re not talking about a kid here or there that shows up at the Port Authority. We are talking about conservatively, hundreds of thousands of children. And, by the way, I received this report from the University of Louisville. And they said, “Mary, you know, we understand that 15 percent is sort of the estimate. It’s in the shadows. Nobody quite knows. But make no mistake, we — we did a study of children in Kentucky and Indiana, we have concluded that 40 percent of homeless and runaway children were victimized by child sex trafficking. Forty percent. So this is a problem that is escalating in size and scale. And it sits along the opioid epidemic. And that is something that nobody is talking about. Because those children are the most vulnerable.
GLENN: Okay. Mary, I’m going to run out of time. So I would like to — because I want to get — I want to build this in layers because there’s a lot of information that people need to absorb.
First, I want you to watch the video. It’s free. It’s everywhere. It’s I Am Jane Doe. It is a really well-produced documentary. And I warn you, when you start talking about freedom of speech, you will — you will — if you’re a Libertarian, start to say, “Well, wait a minute. Hang on just a second. Do they have a right — do they have a responsibility to know exactly what’s happening on the other side, if somebody is just putting in a classified ad?” But that’s not what’s happening here. You know, if somebody wants to post something on Facebook — Facebook isn’t responsible for what everybody says online. They can’t be. It will put them out of business.
Nobody can do that. But that’s not what’s happening. Can you quickly, Mary, explain what the Backpage is doing.
MARY: Yeah, and so this is really interesting. Because a Senate investigation sprang up, which provided all kinds of evidence that — for example, a pimp or a trafficker might post an ad for a child and would use terms that would signal a child: New in town, fresh off the boat, schoolgirl.
These are indicia, of a child, right? And Backpage developed filters, according to the congressional report, that would automatically scrub the term “Lolita” or “schoolgirl,” right? Or Amber Alert, and yet the ad would then be posted.
So there was some conscious decision to mask indicia of a child. And I think that is what is so troubling about the Wild West online is that Backpage and those that have supported Backpage — which, by the way, includes Google and others that are desperate to keep this Wild West culture online have said, even if you’re a website that encourages illegality, you still bear no responsibility for the harm that happens, including the sale of children.
STU: Mary, just to clarify, were you saying that they put the term Amber Alert in the ads?
MARY: Some traffickers apparently put the term “Amber Alert,” because it was a term that Congress discovered that was filtered out automatically by Backpage.
STU: That is absolutely unbelievable.
MARY: I kid you not. I kid you not. There’s a new child to the cause, and there’s an effort in Congress right now to really close the loophole, right? If you’re a bad actor and you’re encouraging this activity, you ought to bear some responsibility. Right? There should be a financial incentive for you to clean up your act.
And one of the mothers, her child, she lost her child at Christmas time to a Backpage buyer. Her daughter was 16 years old. What did the ad say? Fresh. New in town.
GLENN: I learned this from working with Operation Underground Railroad, that there are, you know, low miles. There are terms.
GLENN: There are terms that people who are buying children clearly understand. And for Backpage to be censoring those and then not turning those people into police is really quite reprehensible and frightening.
I want you to — here’s what I want you to do: Mary, would you be willing to come back later this week? Because I want to talk to you about the Google connection.
MARY: Yes, of course.
GLENN: Because Mary is — you know, correct me if I’m wrong, Mary, but you and I don’t agree on much, I would imagine.
MARY: Exactly. You could probably count it on one hand, Glenn.
GLENN: Yes. So we don’t agree on much. However, we do agree on this. And what she’s going through now, what Google appears to be doing to her, they are making her look like me. They’re making her — you know, treating her —
STU: This is terrible, Mary. I’m so sorry for you.
GLENN: Yeah, no. They’re treating her like they would treat me. So something is really wrong. I get it when they’re treating me that way. But when they’re treating one of their own, there’s something really wrong. And I want her to explain that.
But the first thing I want you to do is, please today watch I Am Jane Doe and bring yourself up to speed on this. Because there’s something going through Congress that needs to happen. Later this week, I hope to have Mike Lee on to talk — have you talked to Mike Lee about this at all, Mary?
MARY: No — no, I have not.
GLENN: Okay. So I would like to get Mike involved in this. Because I trust Mike as a real strict constitutionalist, but he’s also a deeply moral man. And so we’ll — you know, we’ll not excuse — will not excuse the — the horrors done to people over — you know, for rights, if you will.
MARY: Right. Exactly. And he’s a First Amendment specialist. And I think both he and I fundamentally agree, this is about conduct online. It has nothing to do with speech.
GLENN: Nothing to do with speech. Okay. Mary, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
The name of the movie is I am Jane Doe. We’ll talk again, Mary. Thanks.