Reduce Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a criminal activity that reaches every country. Today, trafficking affects over 40 million people. The regions that suffer the most from this inhumane transgression are those poorest in the world. People in impoverished countries have limited access to education and well-paying jobs, making them naive and desperate. The demand for cheap labor around the world creates profitable markets for criminals who then target and trick the vulnerable with false promises of better lives. Those victims become lost in the complex networks of human trafficking, and many times people never hear from them from again. One nonprofit is making it its mission to reduce human trafficking.

Traffickers Have Expanded Their Arsenal

In this age of rapidly expanding technology, many perpetrators use technology to enhance their modern slavery rings. Examples of this include controlling those already captured through mobile phones and webcam surveillance. Also, human traffickers recruit potential victims via online grooming scams.

Since criminals have begun to incorporate technology in how they traffic victims, it has become imperative for others to use technology to reduce human trafficking. Each incident of trafficking can be unique, but each case happens within the same three steps; acquisition, transportation and then forced labor. Technology can help disrupt each of these phases and save victims.

Using Technology to Advantage Instead

Specific technological solutions that people use today include directly connecting workers with safe employers in order to eliminate an intermediary who could exploit the worker. A great example of this application is the site, Contratados. As more resolutions like this develop, the ability for traffickers to obtain victims significantly diminishes.

Global imaging has enhanced the capability of identifying human trafficking routes. The company DigitalGlobe produces high-quality images of the earth to expose slave ships in the seas. Applying its powerful satellites in this way allows law enforcement to police seas like never before. DigitalGlobe also combats against child labor by investigating brick kilns in Inda and fisheries in Ghana.

Technology can also provide a way out for those already trapped in forced labor situations. Carrying a mobile phone has given people the ability to call for help after they went to prison wrongfully. That is if migrants have access to the funds for a mobile phone. It is uncommon for migrants to carry such devices if they are from impoverished countries where human trafficking is most rapid.

Technology has many solutions that can reduce human trafficking, but the most significant obstacle is its availability. Migrants of impoverished regions are not the only ones suffering isolation from helpful technology, their governments are too. Without the resources to combat this intricate crime, little improvements happen. Nevertheless, there is still good news for these nations.

How BSR is Doing its Part

In recent years, big tech companies have banded together in order to address this worldwide crisis and reduce human trafficking. Because of the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the big players in this initiative have formed a group called Tech Against Trafficking. These companies include Amazon, AT&T, BT, Microsoft Corporation, Nokia, and Vodafone.

The mission of this collaboration is to work “with global experts to help eradicate human trafficking using technology.” BSR wants all possible parties to become involved. Everyone from survivors and academia to law enforcement and technologists. With all these forces combined, BSR hopes to advance technology in order to reduce, disrupt and even completely prevent human trafficking. Of course, it also plans to provide resources for survivors.

The first action Tech Against Trafficking took in its mission consisted of mapping out the landscape that currently exists. After the initial review, the group identified over 200 different technologies to use as tools to reduce human trafficking. However, the gaps in the effectiveness of the tech implemented were evident. Specifically, in the Southern hemisphere, there is massive room for improvement in technological applications. Tech Against Trafficking’s next step is to work with those on the ground in these regions to better serve them with tech aid.

The U.S. government is also using cutting edge technology in its fight against global trafficking through the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This agency uses a sophisticated data analytics program called Memex. The agency uses it to search the dark web for potential leads on trafficking rings, both domestic and internationally.

How to Keep Yourself and Others Safe

While big tech companies and government agencies do a large part to be at the forefront of fighting trafficking with technology, consumers can do the same. Using applications such as GoodGuide can help people be conscientious about the impacts of how their money is spent. Spreading awareness is the greatest ally to reduce human trafficking. Communicating via apps and social media is a simple call to action for this humanitarian cause that can easily disrupt human trafficking and save many lives.

– Ariana Kiessling
Photo: Flickr

Business for Social ResponsibilityBusiness for Social Responsibility
Large-scale factories, especially in developing countries, are infamous for their dangerous working conditions and lack of respect for their employees. Fortunately, this is taking a turn for the better, with businesses taking steps to ensure a bright future for their employees. There is even an organization dedicated solely to this purpose: Business for Social Responsibility (BSR).

BSR is a nonprofit that works with companies in order to improve the lives of their employees, and has so far partnered with over 250 organizations. Their goal is to work with these organizations in order to create a “systematic progress toward a just and sustainable world.”

The company states on their site that, “The role of business is to create and deliver products and services in a way that treats people fairly, meets individuals’ needs and aspirations within the boundaries of our planet and encourages market and policy frameworks that enable a sustainable future.”

One of the company’s main values is transparency and they heavily stress how important it is within any organization. BSR is hosting a conference in November focusing on this point and how transparency can improve supply change, climate, consumer engagement and impacts on a community.

Another main focus of BSR is keeping the earth clean through environmentally friendly business tactics. The company states on their site the belief that, “integrated, far-sighted planning can create resilient low-carbon emission transport networks, particularly in new urban areas.”

BSR works directly with farmers on sustainability training to keep the farming practices safe and environmentally friendly. They also do work reducing supply chain GHG emissions and work with ecosystem services to ensure all around sustainable businesses.

To make the safe and fair practices come full circle, BSR takes care of partnered companies’ employees by creating HERproject (HER=Health Enables Returns). This is a life skills training program for the factory workers, particularly the women, in BSR-partnered companies.

HERproject holds classes on health education to teach about general health knowledge, reproductive systems and preventative care. The group also has a finance curriculum, filled with modules about formal savings account and budgeting techniques.

HERproject works in the field with local NGOs, clinics and even governments to personalize the training given to each group. Beginning in Bangladesh, it has expanded to include Cambodia, China, Egypt, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and Vietnam; it has plans to begin projects in Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico and Myanmar.

USAID headed a global health research project that showed when employees are better taken care of, their company is better off economically. When workers feel well, they are able to perform well. They do not need as many sick days, they become more productive and therefore more easily meet production goals.

Some notable corporations that have proven the success are J.Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch and Colombia Sportswear, and since the incorporation of BSR practices, they have strengthened their global supply chains. Sandra Cho of Colombia Sportswear states about HERproject:

“HERproject shows great return on investment numbers, but that’s not what’s inspiring about the project to me. What is inspiring is seeing the women excited about the knowledge they’re gaining and sharing, and the sense of empowerment that gives them, that’s exciting for consumers, too.”

BSR is making a global impact for business practices, and in turn they have helped the world move towards a more responsible, cleaner, more ethical future.

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: Global Envision, BSR 1, CSR Wire, Global Hand, BSR 2
Photo: CSRTimes