Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Guest Blog: To Fight the Spread of Cybersex Trafficking, Anti-trafficking Organizations Need to Innovate

Colleen O'Day, writer and anti-trafficking advocate

Colleen O’Day

Controlling the spread of human trafficking is a monumental challenge. Traffickers are innovating in the tactics that they use to exploit millions of victims, underscoring the difficulty of responding to an international epidemic that can look completely different from case to case and country to country. The rapid expansion of internet access across the globe, for example, has enabled people who would otherwise have limited ability to engage in exploitation to participate in the victimization of child trafficking victims from the convenience of their home.

A recent investigation by The Associated Press highlights the nature of cybersex trafficking and those who profit from this exploitation. Chronicling the bust of David Deakin, an Illinois native who relocated to the Philippines, the AP piece exposes not only the means that many of these perpetrators use to exploit children, but also the mentality of many traffickers and the customers who engage in this specific form of trafficking.

Similar to victims of other forms of trafficking, cybersex trafficking victims often come from impoverished communities, with children in particularly vulnerable positions. Where there is a great deal of sex trafficking in general, such as in countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, there is likely to be a great deal of cybersex trafficking.

In many instances, parents or older family members exploit children and force them to perform sex acts for predators living in other countries. Families who need money rationalize their actions by pointing to the barrier of the internet.

“There seems to be this notion of morality; people splicing the definition of sex,” says Annalisa Enrile, an expert in human trafficking and professor at the University of Southern California’s online MSW program. “They rationalize their behavior by thinking, ‘It’s not really sex because it’s happening via the internet.’ This simply isn’t true.”

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Technology in the Fight Against Trafficking: Tracking Criminals and Helping Victims

By Mary Donovan, CLC Contributing Writer

Mary DonovanFrom mobile phones to big data analytics, technology can help in the fight against human trafficking. Access to a phone can enable a victim to call friends, family, or a hotline for help. Data trends enable us to study the patterns of trafficking and to know where to combat it. On the other hand, technology is definitely part of the problem of trafficking, as traffickers are quickly incorporating technology trends and social media in their recruitment of victims. This is why it is crucial to use technology as part of the solution.

While each incident of human trafficking differs in specifics, all have three clear steps, the acquisition step, the transportation step, and the final step of forced labor. Technology can help in each phase.

With access to technology, human trafficking can be avoided in the first place. Technology could directly connect a worker with a safe job, eliminating the need for a middleman, who may exploit the worker. Think of the impact of AirBnB and Uber on the hotel and taxi industries. What if workers could locate honest labor recruiters directly with technology? The supply side of human trafficking would diminish.

The Centro de los Derechos de Migrants launched a website, contratados.com, which allows temporary Mexican workers to share their experiences working in the United States. The website also accepts reviews by text message and telephone. Workers can warn other workers, so labor abuses are not perpetuated and new migrant workers do not unknowingly put themselves in positions to be trafficked.

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Hyatt Hotels Chain Signs ‘The Code’

Mary DonovanBy CLC Contributing Writer Mary Donovan

On December 10, 2015, Hyatt Hotels Corporation re-affirmed its efforts to fight child trafficking by signing a code of conduct known simply as “the Code.” This is a big step forward in the fight against human trafficking and the abuse and exploitation of girls and young women, and in some cases, boys and young men caught in the so-called “sex industry.”

The Code is an industry-driven initiative to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in the tourism industry through awareness, tools, and support. It was developed by End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (EPCAT) the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and UNICEF.

The sexual exploitation of children often takes place in hotels. Hotels are a prime place for this crime because traffickers and pimps can avoid being caught by paying for hotel rooms in cash and switching rooms nightly. Polaris, a global anti-trafficking non-profit, reported that 35% of survivors said hotels and motels were the primary places sexual exploitation occurred. These facts make the tourism industry a good place to start to combat the sexual exploitation of children.

When an organization signs the Code, they commit to following six steps. These steps include training employees and providing information for travelers on how to report suspected cases, adding clauses to contracts with a zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children, and reporting annually on the implementation of The Code. The goal is to have a prepared and aware tourism industry that can recognize and prevent crimes against children.… Read the rest

On Missing Children’s Day, Murray Pledges Trafficking Bill Passage

By Colleen Quinn

State House News Service

Cambridge- Senate President Therese Murray promised advocates of missing children Monday that lawmakers would pass legislation targeting human trafficking.Cambridge —

The Plymouth Democrat made her commitment as Magi and John Bish, whose daughter Molly went missing in 2000, gathered with a group of parents at the State House to mark something no parent ever wants to make note of – their missing children.

The Bishes returned to the state capitol Monday for the 11th annual Massachusetts Missing Children’s Day. They come every year to bring attention to abductions and to missing children never found. Currently, 38 children are missing in the state, according to the Molly Bish Foundation.

Attorney General Martha Coakley thanked the Bishes for reminding law enforcement about “all the people who are touched by a missing child.” Coakley is pushing for Massachusetts to pass legislation that would establish state crimes of human trafficking in labor and sex. She wants to create a task force to study human trafficking, and increase the penalties for “Johns” to target the demand side of trafficking in prostitution. Massachusetts is one of four states in the nation that does not have human trafficking laws.

“We have this problem right in our own backyard,” Coakley said.

The Bish Foundation presented Murray with a legislative award and Murray said it was important to hold the event annually as a reminder of all the missing children.

“The devastation, I can’t imagine losing your child, and not knowing what happened or where, and that they won’t come back.… Read the rest