A new study has found found evidence indicating that Craigslist’s erotic- advertising section may have helped achieve a 17.4 percent decrease in female homicides throughout the United States.
According to researchers at Baylor and West Virginia universities, it is estimated that 2.7 percent of female homicides are prostitutes killed by clients — with many of the murders at the hands of serial killers and other “sadistic individuals notoriously hard to deter.”
The study theorizes that the drop was largely due to the fact that, starting in 2002, the site gave sex workers the ability advertise their services and move their business from the streets to a (sometimes) safe indoor environment.
The online ads also allow for “informal screening, circulated black and white lists, and online reviews” that “may provide the ability for sex workers to identify and screen out violent clients, law enforcement, and scammers,” according to the study.
Craigslist’s adult services section was shut down in 2010 after attorney generals from several states threatened to sue the website.
The researchers studied data on The Erotic Review, a website that allows clients to review sex workers, and constructed a formula to determine the effect the shuttering of the website had on female murders.
“We propose four mechanisms that could explain our results. First, the introduction of ERS may have caused outdoor street-based prostitution to transition to the safer, indoor channel…. Second, the growth of the market, combined with more efficient matching may lead to repeat business with low-risk clients, thereby making the market lower risk to sellers.
Third, ERS may have enabled more screening, such as the use of references when seeing new clients or background checks. And fourth, ERS may have led to greater deterrence of client violence through the creation of a digital fingerprint that made detection of criminal offenses more likely…. We conclude that more efficient matching, growth in repeat business, and transitioning indoors are responsible for the decline in murders.”
The researchers also analyzed how many more police officers would need to be hired to reduce the female homicide rate by the same percentage that Craigslist’s free service apparently did — and concluded that the number of additional officers would be an astonishing 200,832.
According to the study, “Craigslist, in other words, saved 2,150 female lives at a profoundly lower social cost.”
Alison Bass, author of Getting Screwed; Sex Workers and the Law, wrote in The Huffington Post that the shutdown of Craigslist, Backpage, and other similar sites is making life more unsafe for sex workers.
“This approach is only making life more dangerous for many sex workers and is doing very little to protect underage prostitutes who are being trafficked into the trade,” she writes.
Recommended For You:
Main photo: Photo of high heels and handcuffs [Pixabay]