“A drug dealer can only sell a drug once; you can sell a girl over and over again.”
— “I Am Jane Doe”
A little more than a year after “I Am Jane Doe” was released, Backpage.com, the website used to traffic girls (and women), openly pleaded guilty to human trafficking. Its CEO, Carl Ferrer, reached a plea deal (why would they plea deal a sure thing like him?), ensuring he will not spend more then five years behind bars. The film, which walks through the trajectory of protecting the internet’s unimpeded growth around free speech at the expense of America’s girls, ends without the certainty that all the efforts won’t be in vain. It’s a cliff-hanger, and seeing it a year after its release allows the viewer to find out the real ending with quick GOOGLE search after the credits roll.
The movie’s journey partway through this story showcases three underage girls who were trafficked on the site, their parents, and the legal maneuvering to put a stop to Backpage’s unfiltered matchmaking between American men, who want to buy girls, and those running the shackled lives these kids end up leading. It’s a no win–no win situation to be sure. The title “I Am Jane Doe” should have been “Robbing Peggy to Pay Paul,” or somethingthat highlights the real issue: money and its power to overshadow good.
It’s worth the watch, although some things won’t surprise you:
— Not the family’s focus on “fault,” which in my mind is irrelevant and doesn’t serve the end game for these young Americans because if you spend large amounts of energy proving they had no fault in where they ended up rather than realizing fault is not the issue, you will miss the point. I accept some fault for every place my life has taken me, and accepting — maybe even embracing — that is critical to leaving it behind, in my opinion. To quote Maya Angelou, “I did the best I could, and when I knew better, I did better.”
— Not the government’s ineptitude around a sense of urgency to deal with time sensitive matters, and a stronger focus on the fact that someone dared to ignore their subpoena, rather than why he was ignoring it. The majority of men sitting on their thrones above those testifying has always given me pause, and this time is no exception.
—Not the company’s preference for making more cash over doing no harm.
Here’s what will surprise you:
—The number of people who used the site. Openly buying girls online — using a credit card for such a purchase left an undeniable trail to the people doing so. A person whose wife might see the purchase. A person who might have to show credit card receipts to get accepted to a co-op or for a condo purchase. Hundreds of thousands of Americans doing something that would take down their entire life’s work. That was surprising to me.
—How very MALE our judicial system is, and that a judge can say anything with impunity, including, “Older men might just want to have a lovely young woman on their arm, and that’s why they are going to the site.” If he is that inept, he has no business sitting on the court, and if he is that biased in favor of male dominance over women, he has no business sitting on the court. If it’s as I suspect, that he has used the site, he has no business sitting on the court. I looked it up, and only 36 percent of the judges sitting on our federal courts are women. Mistake. Big mistake.
—You won’t learn about the pysche of the girls and women, and how they end up being trafficked. They water ski over that issue really, but you will be left shocked by how public this industry is when you thought it played out in the shadows of our society. Because I am sure, absolutely sure, that although Backpage was shut down, there is surely a “Frontpage” that went up within seconds to continue the sex-journey road map that so many messed-up men want to travel.
The final message in “I Am Jane Doe” is one for the ages:
“We the people are the rightful masters of both congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Christine Merser sits on the board of Empower Her Network, an organization that assists women rebuilding their lives after having been trafficked.