|Photo by tvol|
As you might have seen, President Obama has designated January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month.
This is just one of the ways the government has been putting an increased focus on human trafficking prevention. The Department of Homeland Security has launched a website specifically on the topic of human trafficking (see it here), which includes providing a daily e-mail news update on human trafficking/smuggling; offering multi-lingual online resources for vulnerable populations; and creating and disseminating free training tools for law enforcement to use in identifying situations of trafficking.
All of these developments (and, let's be honest, my recent return to Twitter) got me thinking: technology is truly a double-edged sword when it comes to child sex trafficking. The Internet has made it easier than ever to sell children as commodities, widely distribute pornography, and has successfully forced prostitution off the streets and deeper behind closed doors. However, there are a number of ways technology is aiding the fight against child trafficking, as well. For instance, in addition to the advances described above, this Forbes article ("Technology, Business, and Anti-Human Trafficking Innovation") talks about campaigns by digital ad agencies and tech powerhouses like Google and Microsoft to address trafficking issues. Microsoft has issued a $150,000 request for proposals to create technology that helps identify johns who are attempting to purchase victims.
In addition, Google has helped redesign the CyberTipline (run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) in order to make it more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and easier to report child sexual exploitation.
It's encouraging to see the U.S. government and giant U.S.-based tech companies taking notice of human trafficking, doing more to publicize its occurrence, and using technology in a practical way to make inroads against it.
What about you--is there anything you've seen this January that has made you feel encouraged in the fight against child sex trafficking?