Non-profits have been tackling the issue of exploitation for decades. Learn about the leaders, case studies of successes and failures and current innovations.
Although the fight to end trafficking continues with much work to do, nonprofits and advocacy organizations have been growing, reaching more people in education, prevention and direct service work. A widespread shift in cultural understanding of trafficking has helped the movement continue to grow into a national outcry of advocacy for new laws, better prosecution of perpetrators, ending demand and caring for survivors.
The Luskin Center provided a comprehensive summary of the status of human trafficking data, but importantly Luskin demonstrated the level of social cooperation of the perpetrators and patterns.
The Luskin Center has provided a forward thinking list of technologies that are evidence based helps in the effort to end human trafficking. They are listed below and have been vetted through technology-based companies and anti-human trafficking organizations at the forefront of the movement.
- Creation of a national database for FBI and local law enforcement to enter, access, and share pertinent information on human trafficking cases across jurisdictions would dramatically impact prosecutions of traffickers, who tend to move victims across states and regions.
- Enhancing existing social media platform(s) to include a space for survivor leaders, recent survivors, and service providers to communicate and share information on available services for victims and at-risk youth.
- Expansion of existing mobile-based appsfor survivors, service providers, and law enforcement to provide vital information on local services available for survivors. The GraceCity Resource App is California-based example that can be scaled across the U.S.
- Enhancing existing mobile-based apps commonly used by youth (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, KIK) to include an emergency function that instantly notifies specified contacts (e.g. caregivers, social workers, etc.) and/or local law enforcement with a message that includes geospatial information. The Aspire App, aimed at assisting domestic violence victims, is an example of an inconspicuous app that provides immediate assistance to those in need.
- Creating a digital platform for service providers that facilitates secure and prompt cross-sectional information-sharing for stakeholders involved with human trafficked survivors receiving rehabilitative services.
- Internship and employment opportunities for human trafficking survivors that teach employable skills (e.g. accounting, coding, etc.). AnnieCannons is an example of an anti-trafficking organization that provides survivors with technical training and employment opportunities. For-profit companies can support anti-human trafficking efforts by funding services and research and recruiting trafficking survivors.
- Facilitating an app-based challenge for survivors to develop ways to prevent sex-trafficking of youth, intervene with victims, enhance after-care services, and reduce recidivism rates.
- Further research on the interplay of technology with the following populations: at-risk youth in schools and the child welfare system; mental and physical health of human trafficked victims and survivors; child labor practices; labor and sex trafficking of adults.
Technological advancements also provide unprecedented opportunities for law enforcement and service providers to monitor illicit activity, locate and rescue victims, collect and analyze data leading to the prosecution of traffickers, and streamline communication between anti-trafficking actors and agencies.
- The Spotlight tool which was introduced by Thorn: Digital Defenders in Spring 2014. Spotlight is available to law enforcement across the nation and is designed to aggregate data from online commercial sex advertisements. Law enforcement agencies using Spotlight have seen a 43% reduction in their investigation time.
- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Memex program, which was launched in 2014 to combat human trafficking through an advanced search engine. Although this tool is not widely available, DARPA has fostered research that focuses on revolutionizing technology in the anti-trafficking space.
- The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), operated by Polaris. This toll-free hotline assists victims and community members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 200 languages. The hotline services can also be accessed via email and an online tip reporting form. Polaris’s Global Hotline Program also supports other countries looking to set up hotlines similar to NHRTC in the United States.
- Microsoft’s PhotoDNA, which aids in identifying images of children who are sexually exploited online. The PhotoDNA Cloud Service is available free of charge to qualifying organizations, and has made monitoring illicit online ads more manageable for law enforcement.
- The CyberTipline, which is operated by theNational Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This serves as a mechanism for community members to report suspected exploitation of children. Since 1998, the tipline has received over 4.3 million tips.
- In 2013, Polaris and Thorn partnered with Twilio and Salesforce Foundation to develop the NHTRC SMS-based textline; victims can text the shortcode “BeFree” for a discreet and time-efficient way to access the hotline.
- Anti-human trafficking public service announcements (PSAs) developed by governmental and nongovernmental entities that can be easily accessed and circulated online. One of our favorite campaigns is MTV’s Exit.
January 11th is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. One of the best parts about today is celebrating the small steps and large leaps we have made in prevention, disruption, prosecution of traffickers and sex buyers, decriminalization of victims, and rehabilitation for survivors. The diligent work of countless individuals, organizations, task forces, and the like deserve to be recognized for all of their efforts—from the lives they have assisted (and continue to assist) in recovering to the policies they have influenced and implemented.