Kubiiki Pride experienced every mother’s nightmare when her 14-year-old daughter disappeared, so she did what any heartbroken mother would do: she did everything in her power and exhausted all her resources trying to find her precious daughter.
Faith It reported that nine months after continuously searching for her daughter, Kubiiki discovered a recently-taken photograph of her in an advertisement for “escorts” on the adult page of a classified website called Backpage.com. After months of sleepless nights searching the Internet for any sign that might lead her to her baby girl, at 4:30 a.m. one morning Kubiiki found what she had been searching for.
Kubiiki explained what went through her mind when she first saw the advertisement.
“My first emotion was complete happiness. Just seeing my child alive made me so happy. When I took the whole picture in, that’s when I noticed the nakedness, the tattoos and the other woman in the pictures.”
Her initial moments of joy and elation in finally finding her daughter were very quickly replaced by sorrow because it was in that moment that Kubiiki realized her daughter was being sex trafficked. She said coming to that realization was “one of the most painful experiences” she’s ever had.
Kubiiki immediately reported the findings to the police, who told her that they would execute a sting operation in which they would lure her daughter in and safely retrieve her.
But that wasn’t good enough for this desperate mother: she couldn’t stand the thought of her daughter living that kind of life for another moment, so she dialed the number on the advertisement she’d found and “ordered” her own daughter. One can only imagine her surprise when she realized that her plan had worked: her daughter was returned home and for the first time in nine months she was safe again.
Having her daughter safely back home was just the beginning of a long journey for Kubiiki and her daughter. Now Kubiiki was angry. She was angry that the world’s second-largest classified ad website, second only to Craigslist, continue to promote and profit from victims of sex trafficking.
According to the Chicago Tribune, in one 24-hour period, Backpage.com had approximately 400 published ads for “female escorts.”
Backpage.com was making a lot of money by charging users for each “ad” they post, which cost anywhere between $5 and $10. Kubiiki filed a civil suit against Backpage.com, accusing the site of “knowingly facilitating” prostitution and child sex-trafficking.
But federal law prevents web operators from being held responsible for posts on their websites so she lost the case, but her efforts were not in vain. Backpage.com later came under fire yet again, this time for being linked to the high-profile murder of a Chicago high school principal.
Backpage.com’s involvement in the case led Senator Mark Kirk and Cook County prosecutors to work together, developing a law that would hold web operators liable if their sites facilitated prostitution or trafficking. And, it paid off, because in January the U.S. Senate found Backpage.com owners Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey liable for the countless sex trafficking ads on their website.
Not only were Larkin and Lacey liable, they were actively providing instructions to users on how to post “clean advertisements” by omitting words, phrases, and images indicative of criminality, including child sex trafficking. Larkin and Lacey were fully aware that their site was being used by viewers as a breeding ground for sex trafficking and prostitution, and they coached their users on how to write ads to avoid being labeled as a child sex trafficker.
Backpage.com was forced to remove the “adult” category from their website, a massive victory for not only Kubiiki Pride and her daughter, but for all victims and survivors.
Kubiiki says her daughter may never heal from what happened to her during those nine months of trafficking.
“She’s still very much broken. She was trafficked for nine months. She was raped. She was physically abused.”
The pair has been featured in a documentary called I am Jane Doe, a dark look into the world of modern-day slavery and sex trafficking in the United States.
[Featured Image by Belinda Pretorius/Shutterstock]