The screens that we give to our children, use to store our personal information and rely on everyday are the very same screens that have resulted in the recruitment of 40% of sex trafficking victims in the USA.
The same screens we use to keep our children 'safe' have been used to sexually harm and harass 2/3 Australian and New Zealand children.
The same screens that we used to keep our children entertained during the 2020 COVID lockdowns resulted in a 129% increase of reports of child sexual abuse materials discovered online.
Behind the screens we use everyday, there is a hidden evil.
The theme of this year's World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is the Use and Abuse of Technology.
“Traffickers are currently using technology to profile, recruit, control and exploit their victims as well as using the Internet, especially the dark web, to hide illegal materials stemming from trafficking and their real identities from investigators.”- UNODC Officer.
The Internet provides a gateway to a much larger group of potential trafficking victims because physical and geographical limitations no longer exist.
Online Sexual Exploitation of Children is an extremely violent, destructive and growing form of child sexual abuse and trafficking. This emerging crime was fuelled through the growth of live-stream internet technology, which allows horrible people to identify, purchase and direct the abuse of children for viewing from half-way around the world. On one side of the video call are abusers who pay to direct and watch children abused live on free public websites. On the other side of the video call are family members, neighbours or other trusted adults who have betrayed vulnerable children.
Online recruitment isn't just bound to the dark web. It happens on the social platforms that so many of us use daily. According to the Human Trafficking Institute, out of 133 trafficking cases identified in 2020, 59% were recruited on Facebook and 13% on Instagram.
Slavery and exploitation are not distant issues, they are in the palm of our hands.
Joy* was just ten years old when she was sexually exploited online. Her parents had recently separated and a woman Joy* trusted invited her and her friends into her home.
A disgusting act of abuse, the woman instructed the children to take off their clothes whilst she took pictures. Seven years after Joy* was first exploited, our partners, IJM, discovered the abuse and partnered with police to rescue Joy* and arrest the woman.
Because of your support, Joy* and 15 other children were brought to freedom. Today, Joy* is in school and motivating other survivors to pursue their dreams by interning at a government shelter and mentoring other victims of online sexual exploitation.
"I believe children are the future. I want every bad “Boss” to stop abusing children. Slavery is happening all around the world. I want it to stop. I believe it can stop, but I cannot do it alone.”
Because of the nature of online sexual exploitation, the police face many difficulties in attempting to fight against this issue.
“When a crime is planned in one country, with victims in another country, and a customer in a third one, law enforcement authorities face practical challenges such as finding and securing evidence, as any investigation requires cooperation across borders and a certain level of digital expertise,” - UNODC Officer.
If we want a safe future for our the generations to come we need to do something, and we must act immediately.
Ignorance is not bliss and it's our responsibility as free people to be a voice for those whose voices have been stolen. We have more information on our website, but also check out our partner organisations A21, IJM and It's Not OK Projects.
We partner directly with organisations that fight slavery and exploitation giving 100% of your tax deductible donation to support anti-trafficking efforts. You can donate directly through our website. As little as $5 can make a difference.
Choose to shop for freedom. Visit our online store and make a purchase that gives back. 100% profits of all our merchandise is reinvested into the fight for freedom.
Take some time today to post on your social media accounts about this issue. Help us bring it to light. Online recruitment via Facebook and Instagram are on the rise. Some of your followers may not know about the tactics that predators use to traffic their victims. Share our educational posts. Awareness and prevention are key to winning this battle.
We can't do everything, but we can all do something! Acts that seem small can make a huge difference. What can you do today?