Washington state passed 12 laws this year combatting sex trafficking. Backpage wrongly chose to fight back rather than shed an odious, albeit profitable, sex ads business.

Backpage.com’s lawsuit against Washington state over a new law requiring age-verification in sex-related advertisements was expected.

Village Voice Media, which owns the online advertising website, knows it is swiming in polluted waters against the tide of public opinion. The Legislature aggressively passed 12 anti-trafficking laws last session, including the one now being challenged by Village Voice. But the company will need to adopt a broader strategy because other states, including Connecticut, are considering similar laws to ours.

The chorus pointing to the exploitation of young girls featured in sex ads on backpage is growing. The country’s 51 attorneys general are pressuring the site to close its “adult” section. A coalition of religious leaders launched a similar effort. A social justice organization, Groundswell, delivered more than 240,000 petition signatures to Village Voice’s New York City headquarters in March.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff has kept a ruthless bead on the subject, featuring bleak narratives about young girls sold for sex on backpage. The columns, How Pimps Use the Web to Sell Girls and Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex. to post a few, have angered Village Voice officials but they don’t deny the reality contained in the heartbreaking stories.

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