Warning: this post deals with modern slavery, specifically the sex trafficking of minors. This topic is not a comfortable one. Although I will treat the issue respectfully, the nature of the issue is troubling.
Note: this post is created for the USAID Challenge Slavery competition. If you like my idea, vote for me here between February 1 and 15.
Before You Go Ballistic
I am perfectly aware that many argue that the best solution to fight sex trafficking is to shut down adult ad sections of websites entirely. I addressed this issue at another blog post here. I encourage you to check that out and leave me any comments or email me if you think I should add or change anything to my arguments.
I am also aware that many argue that “adult” services is inherently immoral and not ok for anyone of any age. I might address that issue at a future time.
My proposal, however, does not address either of these issues. This is a proposal to make the best of the current situation. Since I see no sign of adult services ads going away anytime soon (from Backpage or from any other website,) I am using this proposal to advocate garnering the most value possible from our present, hairy situation.
Proposal: Get the National Human Trafficking Hotline Posted on Adult-Ad Sites (like Backpage.com)
|The National Human Trafficking Hotline
Run by Polaris Project
Simply put, my proposal is to get the National Human Trafficking Hotline posted on websites that facilitate adult ads (such as Backpage.com.)
Here’s why I think this will be a good idea:
- The potential to reduce the amount of instances of human trafficking
- The low risk to websites that house adult ads
Potential to Reduce Instances of Human Trafficking
- It will effect changes in “Johns”
- It will effect changes in NGO’s fighting slavery
- It deals with the current situation pragmatically
The impact of an initiative to end slavery is driven by the amount of effort put into the initiative, and the efficacy of the initiative. Effort put into an initiative is driven by the amount of people putting effort into it, multiplied by the amount of effort each person puts into it. Efficacy can be measured by the amount of success divided by the amount of effort put into it.
- Polaris Project (the organization that runs the national hotline)
- Aftercare NGO’s
1. Polaris Project will feel the effects most severely in its hotline. As more call the hotline, other things will become available:
- More information from the increase in the amount of calls
- More success stories as a result of having more crisis calls
- More publicity as people see the number on the webpages and success stories are used
- More credibility as more use, see, and learn about the hotline
- More support as donors and politicians see the increased impact of the hotline
- More opportunities to expand to other countries as all the above points contribute to the hotline’s influence
Any opportunity to spread knowledge about and use of the hotline will break down barriers to fighting human trafficking. This solution will have positive effects that do not stop at backpage, but that can carry across borders and oceans.
2. As more crisis calls come in, more victims will be in need of aftercare. Providers of aftercare will feel several significant effects:
- More clients as the amount of legitimate crisis calls increase
- More political recognition as the demand for aftercare services becomes more widespread
- More public recognition as the dearth between adequate care and the need surface
- More support as donors and politicians see the increase in need and potential impact
- Backpage and other adult-ad services are not going to shut down anytime soon
- Demand for commercial sex will still exist
Many are trying to find ways to reduce the demand for commercial sex, but this proposal does not claim to address that side of the issue. What we are dealing with now is a significant demand for commercial sex that will not simply leave if a webpage is shut down.
Low Risks to Webpages with Adult Oriented Ads
Companies are designed to maximize the wealth of the owners, which is most frequently done by maximizing company profits. Profits is made of a company’s revenues minus its expenses. This proposal is good because
- It is a relatively low-cost solution
- It will not negatively affect revenue streams
Why the Current Posting is Insufficient
Backpage currently does have the human trafficking hotline listed with several other hotlines on a link available when a visitor first tries to enter adult ads on the site.
Before you enter the adult ads section of the site, it displays a warning that the following pages contain sexual content, along with several terms and conditions that users must agree to in order to enter the site. Among those conditions is an agreement to report suspected instances of human trafficking or sexual exploitation of minors. The words are hyperlinked to a small page displaying several hotline numbers.
This listing is insufficient because
- The listing is virtually invisible at its current location
- The listing is no longer available after entering the site
Some of you may not know anything about modern slavery, and somehow read this entire blog post anyway. If you are one of those people, I recommend checking out the following sites:
There are hundreds of organizations fighting slavery, but those are a few of my favorites.