“You calling about the ad?” a man’s deep voice inquired of the caller who had just rung.
The man at the other end hesitated, maybe because he expected to hear a woman’s voice answer the call, then responded: “Yeah.”
The ad he was calling about had been posted on Backpage.com on a recent Friday night. It didn’t say much — and it didn’t need to. Just a phone number and a photo of a half-naked woman.
But rather than setting up a sexual rendezvous with the half-naked woman, the caller got an earful from the man on the other end. Most of the women who advertised for sex were victims of human trafficking, the caller was told, and many were underage.
“What now?” the caller responded, taken aback. Then he added: “Is Mark there?”
“Dude, I know you’re not calling for Mark,” the call-taker said.
“I think I have the wrong number.”
“I think you need to stay off Backpage.”
The exchange was one of 84 that night, part of an effort by a group of San Diego-based male volunteers to educate callers about the realities of human trafficking.
They call it the Bunch of Guys Cyber Patrol.
The fight against human trafficking has evolved significantly around the nation over recent years, with the most tangible efforts aimed at rescuing victims and prosecuting traffickers. Reducing demand for paid sex is a trickier proposition, one that takes a cultural shift and calls for a long-term commitment.
Public awareness campaigns are now common — in airports, at conventions, on freeway billboards — but the Cyber Patrol hopes it can be effective in another way: by appealing to individuals in a one-on-one conversation.
To read the full story or watch the video by Kristina Davis on LA Times: Click Here