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  • Geebo 12:26 pm on September 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Slavery, The Rights Lab, University of Nottingham   

    British university hopes to end slavery by 2030 

    British university hopes to end slavery by 2030

    The University of Nottingham in England has gathered 100 academics from at least 15 disciplines in order to bring about the end of slavery worldwide using what they call The Rights Lab. The project intends to do for slavery what the World Health Organization did for smallpox. They’re taking on all forms of slavery from sex trafficking to slave labor and hope to eliminate slavery worldwide by the year 2030.

    On of their more ambitious projects is what they call their ‘Slavery from Space’ program. The intent is to use satellite technology to identify brick kilns in India which uses a massive amount of slave labor. The program isn’t just about identifying slaves, it’s also trying to find them the correct resources once their emancipated as trafficking victims often receive little to no counseling and often find themselves in situations to be trafficked again.

    Let’s not forget that this is not just a problem that happens in other countries. The United States is one of the top destinations for recruiting and delivering the victims of trafficking in slavery. Thanks to sites like Backpage, anyone can be a trafficker as long as they have the money to pay Backpage with a gift card to place an ad. So for the price you pay for a drink at Starbucks, someone else is using the same amount of money to continue slavery in America.

  • Geebo 12:32 pm on August 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: child labor, electronics, Slavery,   

    The form of slavery we’re all complicit in 

    The form of slavery we're all complicit in

    Here at Greg’s Corner we often talk about the human trafficking and slavery that is facilitated by less than scrupulous sites like Backpage. Unfortunately there is another form of slavery that most of us are supporting whether we realize it or not. Most gadgets that we are dependent on today like our phones, computers and tablets, have roots in overseas child labor. While a number of us are aware of the child labor in many assembling plants overseas did you know that there are around one million children who are working in dangerous mines for our gadgets? Many of the materials in our electronics such as gold and cobalt are mined by children across the globe. Even with the safety precautions that miners here in the US have it’s still one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Now imagine being a child down in some mine without such safety protections.

    The conundrum is that as a society we can’t function anymore without these electronics. From basic communication to international business we’ve all become reliant on these devices. It’s almost impossible to function properly in our country without them. So what can be done about the abuses these children have to endure? For starters, Mashable has a great post about how you can help but I think the most important point they bring up is that we need to hold the electronics manufacturers to task for allowing their partners to engage in these practices. However, this would cut into the profits of many of these companies and too many of them would probably not be willing to do that but there is hope. According to the Mashable post…

    “If even half the people who own smartphones spoke up and said, ‘You know, I’m really worried about these kids mining these minerals in my cellphone,’ I really think that would get companies’ attention,” Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy and coordinator for the Child Labor Coalition says. “If there were enough evidence of consumer concern, the company would then be forced to take the lead on that.”

    Think about dropping an e-mail to your tech’s manufacturers asking them about their child labor practices. These children deserve the same opportunities that the children in our country do. It’s the least we can do.

  • Geebo 10:04 am on July 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Slavery   

    Backpage’s role in sex trafficking by the numbers 

    Backpage's role in sex trafficking by the numbers

    Recently, women’s news blog Broadly posted an article about the trouble that law enforcement and regulators have been having with Backapge and the hand they have in sex trafficking entitled “Why Is It So Hard to Fight Child Sex Trafficking on Backpage.com?” In it the article’s author, Matt Ramos, goes over the history of Backapge’s role in the sex trade and some of the atrocities that many believe they have had more than just a cursory involvement in.

    Even with these well documented incidents attributed to Backpage, most people still don’t understand the far-reaching effect Backpage has had when it comes to the trafficking of women and children for the purposes of sexual slavery. In his article Mr. Ramos mentions these statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

    According to Yiota Souras, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the NCMEC has seen an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking over the last five years. The increase, according to NCMEC, is “directly correlated to the increased use of the Internet to sell children for sex.” Souras added that 71 percent of child sex trafficking cases reported to NCMEC are related to Backpage listings.

    Let’s add those statistics to previous ones like the estimate that says that 82 percent of all online prostitution takes place on Backpage, or that over 80% of Backpage’s overall ads were for prostitution. Pretty sobering statistics for a company that claims to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

  • Greg Collier 10:05 am on May 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ABC, , , , Nightline, , Slavery   

    Backpage.com can’t pretend to fight a war that it keeps alive 

    The old expression about money being the root of all evil is no more true than it is today in the offices of Village Voice Media, parent company of backpage.com.

    By now, it’s pretty much accepted that backpage.com has become the Internet’s defacto marketplace for sex trafficking of both adults and children. Law enforcement officials know it. Prostitutes and pimps know it. And, certainly, the johns who fund this underground world, know it.

    But despite all the pressure for backpage.com to pull these ads from its site – from police and politicians to activist groups and even those in the business, like me – no one at backpage seems to be fazed. I guess an estimated $22 million in annual profit for Village Voice is enough to ease a conscience and buy a good night’s sleep.

    Still, I continue to believe that it’s a fight worth fighting and I’m encouraged that backpage.com is being kept under the spotlight for its practices. But I think what bothers me most is that the company tries to portray itself in a positive light, as a company that’s troubled by the acts of human trafficking that are being advertised on it site and is working hard to eradicate it.

    Give me a break.

    In a recent segment on ABC News Nightline, backpage.com attorney Liz McDougall actually had the nerve to suggest, when pressed to comment about the amount of money backpage.com profits from these ads, that “…this is not about money. This is about providing a tool to save children online.”

    I’m appalled at the suggestion that backpage.com – which is regularly used by law enforcement officials as a way of both learning more about the underground world of sex trafficking and targeting traffickers in sting operations – would ever be considered a tool for saving children.

    In the same Nightline interview, McDougall suggests that “if shutting down the adult category on one website was the answer to stop child exploitation, I would be all over that and I would be out front saying that’s the answer. That is not the answer.”

    My response to that is that no one is suggesting that shutting down the sex ads on backpage will bring an end to child exploitation or human rights violations. But what backpage.com is choosing not to acknowledge is the role that it plays in allowing this underground world to grow and prosper. McDougall says the site invests manpower in identifying questionable ads and refers those ads to law enforcement officials – but if it didn’t allow the ads to begin with, it wouldn’t have to monitor them. And the idea that a room full of employees manually scouring the ads, instead of a high-tech solution to identify them, is making any sort of dent in the problem is laughable.

    At Geebo, we don’t employ dozens of people to scour the site for possible acts of human trafficking or child prostitution. I pulled all of the personals ads from Geebo nearly two years ago – and my conscience and I sleep great at night.

    Related posts:
    Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads
    As Prostitution Persists, Anti-Human Trafficking Activists Look to Root Causes
    Business decisions can be driven by moral values. Will Backpage step up to prove it?

    • Norma Ramos 7:35 pm on May 21, 2012 Permalink

      Greg Collier of Geebo provides an outstanding example of what corporate responsibility looks like. In fact, Geebo is setting the standard for the online classifieds industry.

      Mr Collier could choose to profit from the commercial sexual exploitation of human beings, but he has made a conscious decision not to. This is why in my comments at a New York City Council Hearing on Bachpage a few weeks ago, I cited Geebo as the leader in the industry. Backpage continues to make the specious claim that it is fighting trafficking when it is clear that it is making spectacular profits from the sex trade – now spreading this misery to 4 additional countries.

  • Greg Collier 1:48 pm on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fair Girls, , , Johns, , , Pimps, , , , Slavery   

    Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads 

    I recently came across a couple of articles in the New York Times that really left me feeling disheartened, kind of frustrated and definitely sad. They both focused on human trafficking trends, specifically the use of online classifieds sites as a forum for luring, pimping and selling young girls into the sex trade.

    The first, titled “Online Sex Trade Flourishing Despite Efforts to Curb It,” left a sting in me, not just because I’ve been behind many efforts to curb the use of online ad sites for soliciting sexual encounters but more because police seem to have a “love-hate” attitude about the online sex ads.

    What can anyone possibly love about this online sex trade? Yes, it’s a sad state of society that this modern-day slavery exists, but police explain that online ads have given them a new tool to learn more about this once-underground world and “crack the code” that pimps and johns use to set-up sexual encounters. While I won’t dispute the need for police to be up-to-speed on the latest techniques and technologies, we can’t lose sight of the fact that every ad that law enforcement takes time to study is an ad for a real person trapped in this horribly violent world.

    The second article, an Op-Ed titled “Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods,” honed in on the sites that turn a blind eye on these sorts of advertisements, specifically Backpage.com, an online classifieds operation owned by Village Voice Media. For many companies, a scathing set of words in the New York Times would be devastating but the folks at Backpage are defiant and defensive about all of it. After all, they’re trying to protect their bread-and-butter.

    The AIM Group, a research firm, reports that online prostitution advertising on five U.S. web sites generated at least $3.1 million in February 2012, a jump of nearly 10 percent from February 2011. Of that, nearly 80 percent – or about $2.5 million – came from Backpage. On an annual basis, the AIM Group estimates at least $36.6 million in advertising revenue, with more than two-thirds – $26 million – generated by Backpage.

    As the owner of Geebo, an online classifieds site that doesn’t host a forum for “personals” ads, I’m not reaping the financial rewards that come from these sorts of ads – but my conscience and I are sleeping well at night. I killed the personals section on Geebo in September 2010. For some time now, I’ve been standing out on that limb all alone, asking my industry counterparts to join me in removing personals ads from their sites but instead being met with a deafening silence in response.

    Fortunately, while my industry counterparts stay silent, other groups, such as FAIR Girls, are turning up the heat on these site owners and working to raise awareness about what’s really happening on these sites. Andrea Powell, co-founder and executive director of FAIR Girls, takes exception to the idea that Backpage is being responsible, as it claims, because it says it tries to screen ads for minors and alerts law enforcement when it suspects trafficking.

    “As an advocate who also searches for missing and exploited girls, I can say honestly that it is very hard to find sex trafficked girls using the online classified ad sites,” Powell said. “Pimps hide their victims in hotels, use fake names, and make a real effort to keep us from helping their victims escape. Online classified sites like Backpage.com make it easier for pimps, not victims. It’s the new frontier of sex trafficking, and we want to see these sites shut down.”

    At the very minimum, it’s time for sites like Backpage to recognize that they’re not helping the problem but instead are making it worse, providing pimps and johns with an anonymous access to an online marketplace for sex. Certainly, I’d welcome any of my competitors in classifieds to shut down but if they want to stay in the game, I’ll just keep asking that they at least kill the area of ads where pimps and johns continue to destroy innocent lives.

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