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"Real Men Don't Buy Girls": Using Technology to Stop Child Sex Trafficking
Amanda Reed, 29 Sep 10

Can technology help put a stop to child sex trafficking? A new anti-trafficking tech task force, organized by the DNA Foundation, is working towards eliminating online sex trade transactions.

Last week, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore announced the launch of the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on behalf of their DNA Foundation and their partners at the NoVo Foundation. I was at the press conference and surprised to learn that:

  • 12.3 million people are enslaved today worldwide
  • 2 million of those people are children bought and sold in the global commercial sex trade
  • Between 100,00 and 300,000 of those children are bought and sold in the United States
  • The average age of entry to the commercial sex trade is 13 years old

And, according to Moore, "there is a statistic that says 1 in 5 men have engaged in the commercial sex trade." The "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign aims to change cultural stereotypes that allow this market to exist; to educate people about the problem; to recruit successful and visible male role models for young boys to emulate; and to get, in Kutcher's words, "people to stand up and be real men and women and say that what is happening in the world today is not okay." As Moore continued, "real men protect, respect, love and care for girls. Real men don't buy girls."

In addition to the "Real Men" public awareness campaign, the DNA Foundation has brought together an "anti-trafficking tech task force" of leading technology companies, including Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and Facebook, with Internet Service Providers, government and law enforcement officials to dismantle the online market for child sex slavery, which is where 76% of transactions for underage girls in the commercial sex trade are made. "The purpose of this tech task force is to create technology solutions to end human trafficking online," Kutcher said. "We believe that, together, we can create a trafficking-free internet and that's our mission, that's our goal." Pamela Passman, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, shared one way that Microsoft is helping: They've donated their "Photo DNA" technology to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which will assist them to track, identify and remove illegal and exploitative images online.

If you'd like to view the press conference and hear more about the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign, as well as learn more about the efforts the tech task force is undertaking, click here. Kutcher makes a particularly impassioned speech about the need for this campaign between 22:23 - 25:14 in the online video.

Note: Click here for my other posts from CGI.

Related stories in the Worldchanging archives:

  • TED Global 2010: Sheryl WuDunn – Empowering Women, Defending Development Aid | Ethan Zuckerman, 16 Jul 10
    Of obstacles to gender equality, WuDunn sees sex trafficking as the most serious. In the 19th century, slaves were worth about $40,000 in today’s dollars. Girls trafficked for sex are sold for a few hundred dollars. They’re more disposeable than African slaves were.
  • Kids With Cameras' Zana Briski is WorldChanging | Cameron Sinclair, 23 Nov 04
    By 2002 Briski had formed Kids with Cameras, a non-profit organization to help educate the children of Calcutta's prostitutes and to empower other marginalized children worldwide through learning the art of photography. ¶ In 2003 Briski and co-director Ross Kauffman completed their first film, Born Into Brothels, a snapshot (sorry, bad pun) into the groups work in Calcutta. In the past year the film has won over 17 film festival awards, including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Documentary Audience Award and being shortlisted for the IDA award, the press are already talking about a possible Oscar nod for this stunning film. ¶ Following the success of Born into Brothels, Zana Briski and the Kids With Cameras staff are mounting a campaign to provide a combined educational and residential facility for the children whose lives were touched by the workshops, and for children like them around the world.

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