Intern Rebecca here, with embarrassing news from my hometown…
Way out West in Portland, OR, a twenty-year-old man-child by the name of Zachary Driver was caught pimping out girls via the Internet – a business venture made possible by sites such as MySpace and Craigslist. One of Zachary’s “employees” was a fifteen-year-old girl, and Zachary was soon exposed for selling underage girls as prostitutes and was sent to prison.
Distraught by the idea that her son would be returning (that’s right, returning) to prison, Shelia Montgomery, Zachary’s mother, decided to show the world that this particular fifteen-year-old was already a slut before dear Zachary turned her into an underage prostitute. How did Ms. Montgomery do this? She posted naked pictures of the fifteen-year-old on her own MySpace page – ostensibly taken before the girl met her son – to prove the girl lacked a moral code. Because posting naked photos of minors is child pornography, Shelia was charged with assisting in human trafficking over the Internet and is now serving time herself.
A little research unfortunately shows that human trafficking via sites like MySpace and Craigslist is apparently the hip new thing in Portland, along with avoiding gluten and wearing unnecessary glasses.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, an average of five cases of human trafficking via the Internet occur each week in my fair city, with an average of two cases a week being juveniles.
Portland police estimate a pimp earns $800 to $1,000 a day from each juvenile victim.
Really, Portland? Is this what it’s come to? I know we’re known for harboring insane amounts of pot, and more recently meth, and I know our only professional sports team is nicknamed the “Jail-Blazers,” and I also recognize the unemployment rate is uncomfortably high, but using MySpace to pimp out children? Or try to defend your child after they’ve used the Internet to pimp out even younger children?
As an Oregonian, I’m embarrassed. As a US citizen, I’m in shock. Human trafficking is clearly illegal. How can it happen via a forum as public as the Internet?? And we’re not even talking hidden black market websites here. We’re talking MySpace, Facebook’s ever publically embarrassing unwanted uncle.
Human trafficking is happening through the exact same medium you’re using to read this article. Are you disgusted yet?
Why hasn’t MySpace been shut down? Or Craigslist? How can this go on, legally, in a country that prides itself on being safer and all around better than the rest?