DOWNINGTOWN, Pennsylvania — Modern slavery takes many forms including sex trafficking, child trafficking and forced labor. This affects nearly 40 million men, women and children. The most vulnerable populations are often poor. Traffickers lure impoverished persons with the promise of good pay. However, victims instead find themselves exploited by the system. Nearly 85% of victims worldwide come from Asia. Five technological solutions are trying to combat modern slavery in order to alleviate its detrimental effect on the world’s poor.
Operation Red Alert
The My Choices Foundation from India and the Australian analytics firm Quantium developed Operation Red Alert. The solution uses “big data” to analyze census data and causes of modern slavery in Asia, such as poverty, natural disaster, population and lack of law enforcement to categorize high risk towns and villages. The My Choices Foundation then uses that data to go into these villages to speak to parents, girls and teachers about trafficking tactics under the Safe Village education program. With this technology, the My Choices Foundation has 40 different NGO partners and has reached more than 600,000 villagers with the Safe Village program.
Tuanyuan is a mobile app used in China. Alibaba Group Holding LTD developed the app in 2017. The primary purpose is to share information between the authorities. Once an abduction is reported, users in the area will receive a notification with a photo and description. If the child is not found as time progresses, the radius of the notification increases. As of 2016, experts credit the app with saving 611 missing children.
Victim Case Management System (VCMS)
In a partnership with Salesforce, start-up Liberty Asia built a “powerful” community of NGOs to find solutions to modern slavery in Asia. The VCMS and data collection app allows NGOs on the ground to “store, share and analyze” data such as names and ages of victims. The data tracks movement across borders and gives the front-line NGOs complete transparency over the region by identifying hotspots.
This Thai mobile app seeks to provide a consistent and safe platform for victims of modern slavery in order to talk about their experiences. Thailand is a destination for modern slavery. The country faces the challenges of correctly identifying victims and offering sufficient support. This app provides a solution to this challenge. First, a social worker or NGO member will travel to a hotspot for trafficking. Then they will select a questionnaire from the app and give the smartphone to a potential victim in the area. Finally, the app will determine whether or not the person is a victim of modern slavery.
Zoom, Google Hangouts and other video platforms are revolutionizing justice for victims of human trafficking. In Asia, convictions for cross-border trafficking are rare because women do not want to pursue the case. Every year thousands of impoverished women and children from Bangladesh and Nepal are transported across the border to India to be exploited. Survivors must stay in a shelter, often miles away from home, to testify against their perpetrators. This deters them from coming forward or speaking at the trial. However, the emerging popularity of video conferencing has provided a safe and empowering platform for victims of modern slavery in Asia to testify from across borders. For the very first time in 2016, Bangladesh imprisoned a sex trafficker due to the strength of a victim’s testimony via a video conferencing platform.
Fighting modern slavery is a tremendous task. However, governments and NGOs are utilizing technology in an attempt to fight modern slavery. With the aforementioned apps and systems, there may be hope for victims of modern slavery in Asia.
– Lalitha Shanmugasundaram