Facebook: Take Action Against Sex Trafficking Page!

Earlier on Tuesday evening I was doing some research on Kolkata, India and was searching for some information about sex work in the city. I did a quick search for Sonagachi, which is the city’s largest red light district. In fact, it’s one of the biggest red light districts in all of Asia. Sonagachi is also the focus of the 2004 documentary Born Into Brothels. You can read about the crimes against women and girls that are committed in Sonagachi in a variety of places, or you can watch the documentary.

While doing my research to grab a couple those statistics, I discovered something disturbing: Sonagachi has a Facebook community page. Nearly 3000 people have liked that page.

The page is full of images of young women, many of whom are likely under age, as so many of the sex workers in Kolkata are. From what I have learned firsthand from people who work in Kolkata’s red light districts, many of the sex trade workers are not there of their own volition. They are there because they have been kidnapped, sold, or enslaved. The photos on the Sonagachi Facebook page are of women who are likely the victims of human trafficking.

Because the fan page also features photos of totally naked women and women performing oral sex on men, I immediately reported it to Facebook. I know that Facebook has made some positive steps lately in responding to posts that promote violence toward women, so I was hopeful that they would take action against the page. I mean, it is basically a lookbook of available sex workers, featuring explicit pornography.

Screencap of the header of the Sonagachi Facebook page

I asked some friends to join me in reporting the page.

Unfortunately, we all received this message:

Hi,

Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Learn more about what we do and don’t allow by reviewing the Facebook Community Standards: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards.

Thanks,
Viki

Screencap of the email quoted above

Let me interpret this for you: Facebook is choosing not to take action against a page that promotes the sex trafficking of women and features pornographic images of naked women performing sex acts. Many of the women are likely under age.

This is despite their own community standards, which state: Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.

This is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, there is not much that I can do from where I live in Indiana to help women who are being trafficked for sex in Kolkata. I will do what I can, but it’s not much. One of the things I can do is ask the world’s most popular social networking site not to be complicit in the sale of women and girls.

This is the link to the very upsetting (and obviously NSFW) Sonagachi Facebook page. Please join me in reporting it to Facebook and letting them know that this is unacceptable on their part.

Read more at Jezebel.

Update: Although I don’t have the stomach to look through the pictures and galleries, it has been brought to my attention that there are children featured in some galleries, posts have been made in the last 24 hours by the page community advertising women for sex, there is a photo series about taking a teenage woman’s virginity. Please, if you choose to visit the site, REPORT IT. Don’t just click through the images. Do something about this.

This post originally appeared at Liz Boltz Ranfeld, where I blog about living and parenting as a liberal feminist Christian.

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5 Comments Facebook: Take Action Against Sex Trafficking Page!

  1. Avatar of DormouseDormouse

    Liz, you are my hero, and I greatly respect and admire you for all your hard work today to make others aware of this atrocity.

    1. Avatar of LizBRLizBR

      Thank you so much. I spent all morning and afternoon glued to my laptop, so I left the house for a few hours this evening just to make myself take a break. I’m just getting home and catching up on what has been taken down vs. what still remains online regarding Sonagachi and reported pages.

  2. Avatar of [E] Liza[E] Liza

    The page seems to be down now. But we should still be talking about why it took dozens of people and media attention to get it removed.

    1. Avatar of DormouseDormouse

      There’s another Sonagachi “fan page” that is up, although it doesn’t feature nearly as much explicit content as the other one and has not yet attracted as many “fans.” It’s both infuriating and disheartening to see literally nothing done about these sorts of pages.

  3. Avatar of verunaveruna

    That is horrifying and disturbing on may levels. I reported it. Hopefully Facebook will do something about it. I wish we could do more for the women there.

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