New York, NY, April 9, 2018—“Legal Momentum applauds the Department of Justice for taking decisive action to shut down the Backpage website on Friday, April 6. This action will prevent countless more victims, including our most vulnerable children, from being trafficked online for sex. We believe the DOJ’s action sends a strong signal to other outlets looking to mimic Backpage’s heinous behavior,” said G. Elaine Wood, Chair of the Board of Legal Momentum.
Legal Momentum has been leading the charge to end online commercial sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children for several years and has continuously spoken out against the harm caused by Backpage. In March, 2016, Legal Momentum’s leadership published an op-ed calling on Congress and the Attorney General to shut down Backpage and other sites that knowingly facilitated online trafficking. Legal Momentum also provided support to the Senate’s investigation, which found that Backpage knowingly facilitated online sex trafficking, including the trafficking of children.
The DOJ’s decisive action comes on the heels of Congress’s historic passage two weeks ago of the FOSTA-SESTA legislation that the President is expected to sign into law on Wednesday. Legal Momentum helped shepherd this crucial bill through the legislative process in alliance with our coalition partners and members of both House and Senate leadership. FOSTA-SESTA clarifies Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has been wrongly used as a shield against lawsuits by sites including Backpage.
In February 2017, Legal Momentum and pro bono partner Boies Schiller Flexner filed a lawsuit in Florida on behalf of a trafficking survivor and Florida Abolitionist, a provider of services to trafficking survivors. Although Backpage moved to block the suit, the court has ordered the case to proceed. Legal Momentum will continue its work with David Boies, Karen Chesley, Karen Dyer and the other members of the Boies Schiller Flexner legal team to eradicate sex trafficking altogether and obtain justice and compensation for the survivors.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum – The Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s equal legal rights for nearly 50 years, since its founding as the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in 1970. Legal Momentum was instrumental in drafting and helping pass the Violence Against Women Act and other major legislation that protects girls and women. Legal Momentum brings cutting-edge impact lawsuits, drafts and supports innovative legislation, and educates judges and court personnel on issues related to gender equality. Legal Momentum envisions a society in which all women and girls are economically secure, empowered to make their own choices, and can live and work free of discrimination and violence. For more information, visit www.legalmomentum.org.
Boies Schiller Flexner LLP is working with Legal Momentum pro bono as part of the firm's civil rights practice.