The commercial sector, also referred to as the private sector, is that portion of a country’s economy that includes most for-profit companies and industries. Commercial-sector companies have the capacity both to facilitate commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and to be involved in solutions. Traffickers and other exploiters of children often rely on Internet transactions, transportation, hotels, and other goods and services provided by the private sector. More broadly, minors frequently are portrayed as objects of sexual desire in the commercial media, which may reflect or contribute to tolerance of sexual exploitation.
Some companies, however, are attempting to mitigate their involvement by engaging in efforts to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Recognizing that exploiters and traffickers often sell prostituted children in hotel rooms, for example, a hotel may agree to implement policies that make it more likely that staff will identify and report commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors to police. Other companies realize that, although they do not contribute directly to the problem, they have unique products or skills that can contribute to solutions. This chapter describes several of these efforts that have been made by the commercial sector to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Because this is an emerging area of research and practice, the committee used its public workshops, site visits, and key informant interviews to learn about such commercial-sector initiatives. The descriptions of these efforts within this chapter are meant to complement and supplement the limited published research. As with such efforts described in other chapters, these initiatives have not been empirically
evaluated, so the committee does not intend to imply that it is endorsing these approaches. In addition, this is not meant to be an exhaustive review of commercial-sector involvement. The goals of the chapter are to identify ways in which the commercial sector contributes to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and to illustrate potential opportunities to leverage its resources, expertise, and position to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes.
The chapter starts with a brief discussion of some of the ways in which commercial-sector entities facilitate commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. It then reviews selected initiatives by commercial-sector entities to contribute to and support efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to these crimes. Next, the chapter examines the role the law can play in fostering such positive contributions by commercial-sector entities. The final section presents findings and conclusions.
THE COMMERCIAL SECTOR’S
CONTRIBUTION TO THE PROBLEM
In many ways, the functioning of the “market” for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children and adolescents is like that of other legal and illegal markets: when and where demand for a product or service exists, a market will emerge to respond. Because there is demand for commercial sex with young persons, including minors, individuals and criminal organizations have found ways to sexually exploit children and adolescents for profit. The committee acknowledges that readers may find this explanation to be both oversimplified and objectionable (i.e., the “product” or “service” in question is sex with a minor). The committee also recognizes that the root causes of demand may differ for children and adolescents of different ages, and as noted in Chapter 3, further research is needed to understand demand better. However, the committee believes that considering commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in this way can advance public understanding of the commerce of human trafficking. Further, this explanation underscores how the commercial sector can both contribute to and inhibit the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
Commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are profitable endeavors. A number of sources suggest that human trafficking (for sex or labor) generates billions of dollars worldwide each year and is a rapidly growing criminal enterprise (Belser, 2005; Kara, 2011; Small et al., 2008; U.S. Department of State, 2005). While exact figures are difficult to discern and are an area in which consensus is lacking (see, e.g., Jordan and Burke, 2011), human trafficking, like drug and arms trafficking, can be a lucrative criminal activity. According to a recent report by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) National Gang Intelligence Center on emerging gang trends in the United States, commercial sexual exploitation of women and children is a major source of revenue for many gangs (FBI, 2011). In addition, in areas where commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are unrecognized or can otherwise avoid the attention of law enforcement, engaging in these crimes may carry little legal risk.
Facilitating Commercial Sexual Exploitation
and Sex Trafficking of Minors
As noted in Chapter 1, a range of actors in the commercial sector are involved—either complicitly or unwittingly—in facilitating the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. For example, businesses that are actively involved in these crimes may allow or provide structures for their occurrence. Examples include hotels/motels that accept cash for rooms and fail to check identification and taxi drivers who receive a fee for driving victims to hotels or other locations. The Internet, especially sites that provide a forum for the posting of advertisements for escorts and other sex work, can facilitate commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors by relocating victims from the street to private spaces, thereby reducing risk for exploiters. Other business entities, such as banks and other financial service providers, landlords, airlines, railroads, and bus lines, may be used by an exploiter without their direct knowledge or detection.
Contributing to Demand and Exploitation Through Sexualization
A recent report from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls compiles evidence that girls often are sexualized in U.S. society and that media play a major role in this process. While demonstrating that sexualization has many adverse consequences, the task force is careful to note that research on the connection between sexualization and exploitation is “virtually nonexistent” and asserts that such research is urgently needed (APA, 2010). The task force nonetheless makes a number of observations relevant to this committee’s examination of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. For example, the task force states that images of prematurely pubertal girls “may serve to normalize abusive practices such as child abuse, child prostitution, and the sexual trafficking of children” (APA, 2010, p. 34). In terms of demand, the task force suggests that “the sexualization of girls may also contribute to the trafficking and prostitution of girls by helping to create a market for sex with children through the cultivation of new desires and experiences” (APA, 2010, p. 34). These comments suggest that the commercial sector, specifically media and entertainment enterprises, may be
complicit in normalizing the sexualization of children. It is important to underscore that the task force’s report does not identify evidence confirming such potential links and that additional research is needed to determine the extent to which the sexualization of girls is associated with sexual exploitation broadly and with commercial sexual exploitation specifically.
OPPORTUNITIES TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM
IN THE COMMERCIAL SECTOR
Many of the same individuals and businesses that can contribute to the problems of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors also are well situated to help prevent and address these problems. This can be seen in recent experiences related to the commercial sector’s response to labor trafficking. As the 2012 Trafficking in Persons report notes, there is growing awareness within the commercial sector regarding the role businesses can play in prevention by working to ensure that the production of their products does not use forced labor or involve exploitation of children (U.S. Department of State, 2012). Furthermore, public awareness and the work of human rights organizations have pressured the commercial sector to adopt more responsible business practices (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility et al., 2011). This development illustrates the potential of existing market forces to influence and engage the commercial sector.
This section describes some models for how the commercial sector can contribute to solutions. Further research is needed to determine the extent to which responsible and innovative practices addressing the commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors are likely to be adopted voluntarily by all businesses or whether legislation is required to provide appropriate incentives and/or sanctions to motivate the adoption of such practices. The committee supports commercial-sector efforts as one essential part of a multisector response to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
The committee observed two promising roles for the commercial sector: applying industry innovation to identify commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and adopting policies that reduce the occurrence of these crimes. Examples of each are described below.
Applying Industry Innovation
Computer Software Industry
Microsoft, in partnership with Dr. Hany Farid at Dartmouth University, developed technology called PhotoDNA that can be used to identify copies of pornographic images of minors. Microsoft uses the technology in its
e-mail, cloud computing, and search services. It also donated PhotoDNA to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is using the technology to locate child pornography and remove it from the Internet (Microsoft, 2009). In addition, Facebook has licensed the software and uses it to search for child pornography among photos uploaded to its site (Richmond, 2011). Microsoft believes PhotoDNA technology also can be used to combat human trafficking, and in June 2012 announced six grants to study the intersection of technology and trafficking (Doerr, 2012; Microsoft, 2012).
JPMorgan Chase, a global financial services firm, has worked with law enforcement and prosecutors to develop a set of indicators of financial transactions that can be used to help identify traffickers (Koch, 2012). Law enforcement personnel explained to JPMorgan the typical habits and patterns of traffickers, such as posting numerous ads on classified ad websites, traveling on well-known trafficking routes, and renting movies for victims to watch when they are not working. JPMorgan used this information to create a set of financial transaction indicators (a “financial footprint”) that, taken together, can help identify traffickers. These indicators include repeated small-dollar payments to Internet classified ad providers, travel to high-risk jurisdictions, foreign wires, late-night credit card swipes, certain road tolls, payments related to immigration, payments at DVD kiosks, and Internet provider logins from high-risk jurisdictions. Using this financial footprint to search its database of credit card transactions, JPMorgan can identify individuals who are potentially using the firm’s financial services to engage in human trafficking.
LexisNexis is a legal information company that primarily provides access to legal documents to government, corporate, and academic clients. Several years ago, as part of its corporate social responsibility program, LexisNexis began supporting several antitrafficking nongovernmental organizations and educating its customers about the issues surrounding human trafficking (Goswami, 2012). In the course of its work educating clients, LexisNexis learned from prosecutors’ offices that one challenge in investigating human trafficking cases is organizing and making accessible to various law enforcement investigators and prosecutors the pieces of evidence (e.g., a photograph of a suspect’s tattoo) needed for a successful trafficking case. Given that many trafficking cases involve multiple investigators in different departments or jurisdictions, prosecutors also expressed interest
in making those pieces of information accessible to other investigators and prosecutors both within and outside their jurisdiction.
Recognizing an opportunity to strengthen relationships with clients and provide them with needed services by drawing on one of its core capabilities—organizing legal information into easily searchable databases—LexisNexis developed a secure online database that allows law enforcement to compile and share information about suspected trafficking cases within and across jurisdictions. The company has provided this database pro bono to several jurisdictions that are pilot testing the software.
Adopting Policies to Reduce the Incidence of Commercial
Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors
The tourism industry intersects frequently with victims and facilitators of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. For example, exploiters and traffickers rent hotel rooms where victims are forced to have sex. Seeing an opportunity to engage the tourism industry in preventing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) Sweden developed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation Travel and Tourism (“the Code”) (ECPAT International, 2012). Companies that sign the Code agree to take six steps: (1) establish an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children; (2) train personnel about commercial sexual exploitation of children; (3) introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers that states a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children; (4) provide information to travelers about commercial sexual exploitation of children through, for example, brochures, films, or websites; (5) provide relevant information to key people in tourist destinations; and (6) report annually to ECPAT (ECPAT International, 2012).
The Code began as a way to reduce exploitation of children in sex tourism destinations (e.g., Cambodia), but has evolved toward encouraging domestic companies to adopt policies that address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors within the United States (Smolenski, 2012). As of July 2012, eight U.S. companies had signed the Code. Within the United States, Carlson (owner of Radisson, Park Plaza, and Country Inn & Suites hotels, among other hospitality companies) has taken a lead role in promoting the Code and addressing sex trafficking in the tourism industry (Smolenski, 2012). Other hotel chains also have signed on to the Code more recently, as has Delta Airlines.
Socially Responsible Investing
Socially responsible investing groups invest only in companies they consider ethical and socially responsible. They actively advocate for companies to adopt policies that meet the group’s socially responsible investing standards, and indirectly encourage companies to become more socially responsible by withholding investment funds from companies that fail to meet their standards. Recently, several socially responsible investing groups have taken an interest in leveraging their investing power to address human trafficking. For example, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group of both faith-based and secular institutional investors, called on companies to take many of the same steps outlined in the ECPAT Code, such as including a clause on trafficking in contracts with suppliers (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, 2011). The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility also encouraged companies in the travel and tourism industry to adopt the Code. In addition, recognizing the need for multidisciplinary and multistakeholder collaboration to address human trafficking, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility called on companies to partner with other companies, governments, and nongovernmental organizations to raise awareness of human trafficking and confront the issue.
Various components of the transportation industry have a role to play in responding to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. These crimes often occur at truck stops, likely because of their remote locations and social isolation. In 2004, an FBI investigation of truck stops and call centers in Oklahoma City identified more than a dozen trafficked children and resulted in 11 federal arrest warrants and 3 federal search warrants (U.S. Congress et al., 2005). Truckers Against Human Trafficking, a nonprofit organization, educates truckers and truck stop employees about the dangers and warning signs of human trafficking through training, posters, and wallet cards (Truckers Against Human Trafficking, 2012). In 2011, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline received 185 calls from truckers reporting 62 sex trafficking cases (National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 2011). More than one-third of the callers had learned about the hotline from Truckers Against Human Trafficking.
The railroad system also offers an opportunity for intervention. On October 4, 2012, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Transportation joined with the president of Amtrak to announce a campaign to fight human trafficking more generally (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2012a). Amtrak employees are to be trained using tools developed by the
Department of Homeland Security (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2012b) “on potential indicators of human trafficking and how to identify potential victims.”
The Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT) was launched on September 25, 2012 (gBCAT, 2012b). Founding members include Carlson, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, ExxonMobil, LexisNexis, ManpowerGroup, Microsoft, NXP, and Travelport. The coalition aims to address all forms of human trafficking, including labor trafficking and sex trafficking and prostitution of children. Its initiatives will include developing training and education programs for company employees, vendors, and subcontractors; raising awareness of company policies to combat sex trafficking, notably in travel and tourism; identifying and preventing forced labor in supply chains and operations; conducting outreach to businesses; and sharing promising practices (gBCAT, 2012a). Although it is too early to evaluate any initiatives of gBCAT, partnerships among private-sector entities could help facilitate the development and dissemination of responsible business practices that both minimize the role of the private sector in fostering conditions conducive to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors and help prevent such exploitation.
Media also can play a positive role by shining a spotlight on commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors. Media can facilitate public awareness and contribute to efforts to press policy makers to act.
THE ROLE OF LAW IN FOSTERING POSITIVE
The State of California’s Transparency in Supply Chains Act, New York City’s civil penalty for taxi and limousine drivers convicted of using a vehicle to facilitate sex trafficking, and an executive order and legislation at the federal level illustrate the role of law in fostering positive commercial-sector involvement in dealing with the problems of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
California’s Transparency in Supply Chains Act
In 2010, California enacted the Transparency in Supply Chains Act,1 which requires any retailer or manufacturer doing business in the state with annual worldwide gross receipts exceeding $100 million to disclose efforts it is undertaking to eliminate human trafficking from its supply chains. The California law took effect on January 1, 2012. A similar bill has been introduced at the federal level that would apply to all publicly listed companies.2
The California law is limited to requiring disclosure of policies and steps a company has taken to address human trafficking in supply chains; it does not mandate that companies undertake such action. Certain companies have responded to the law by disclosing detailed policies and procedures, and others have announced that they will commence particular actions; still others have made clear that they are doing very little. The hope is that the law will encourage companies to compare their actions with those of others and take proactive steps to reduce human trafficking in their supply chains (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility et al., 2011; Todres, 2012), whether their motivations for change are driven by ethical principles, brand management, consumer relations, or other concerns (Todres, 2012).
The California law is intended primarily to address labor, not sex, trafficking. However, such laws potentially could be used for sex trafficking or suggest other legislative approaches to encouraging commercial-sector entities to take steps to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
New York City’s Civil Penalty for Taxi and Limousine Drivers
In 2012, the New York City Council enacted a law that creates a $10,000 civil penalty for taxi and limousine drivers convicted of using a vehicle to facilitate sex trafficking.3 With respect to sex trafficking of minors, using a vehicle to facilitate sex trafficking is using a vehicle licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to advance or profit from prostitution of a person under 19 years old.4 Other potential penalties include loss of driver’s license and loss of vehicle license. In addition, the law requires the Taxi and Limousine Commission to create and implement a program of instruction for drivers that explains the new law and provides information about resources available to assist victims of sex trafficking. The law
1California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, S.B. 657, 2010 Reg. Sess. (Ca. 2010) (codified at CAL. CIV. CODE 1714.43).
2Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, H.R. 2759, 112th Cong. (2011).
3N.Y.C. Law No. 2012/036 (June 22, 2012).
4N.Y.C. Law No. 2012/036 (June 22, 2012).
mandates that drivers complete this training as a requirement for initial licensure and renewal.5
Federal Law and Regulations
On September 25, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order (Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal Contracts) to strengthen the U.S. government’s response to human trafficking. The executive order “expressly prohibit[s] Federal contractors, contractor employees, subcontractors, and subcontractor employees from engaging in [various] types of trafficking-related activities,”6 including misleading and fraudulent recruitment practices; charging of recruitment fees; and confiscation or destruction of identity documents, including passports.7 It also requires contractors and subcontractors to develop compliance plans, inform their employees of rules regarding not engaging in trafficking-related activities, and provide a means for employees to report trafficking activities without fear of retaliation.8 Like the California law discussed above, the executive order is intended primarily to address labor, not sex, trafficking, but potentially could be used to address sex trafficking or suggest other legislative approaches to encouraging commercial-sector entities to take steps to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
On March 8, 2013, President Obama signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 (TVPRA). The TVPRA includes a requirement that the federal government “promote, build, and sustain partnerships” between the U.S. government and “private entities, including foundations, universities, corporations, community based organizations, and other nongovernmental organizations to ensure that . . . United States citizens do not use any item, product, or material produced or extracted with the use and labor from victims of severe forms of trafficking; and . . . such entities do not contribute to trafficking in persons involving sexual exploitation.”9 Although it is too early to evaluate the impact of this new provision, it provides a basis for expanding efforts to collaborate with commercial-sector entities to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. Fur-
5N.Y.C. Law No. 2012/036 (June 22, 2012).
6Obama, B. 2012. Strengthening protections against trafficking in persons in federal contracts. Executive Order 2(1)(a), (September 25, 2012). http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/executive-order-strengthening-protections-against-trafficking-persons-fe (accessed December 17, 2012).
7Executive Order 2(1)(a).
8Executive Order 2(2)(a).
9Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) 1202 (2013) (the TVPA Reauthorization of 2013 was attached as an amendment to VAWA).
ther research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these and other laws and regulations aimed at addressing these crimes.
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
The committee’s review of the literature and its careful consideration of expert testimony revealed several themes related to the role of the commercial sector in preventing, identifying, and responding to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States. This chapter has highlighted a range of noteworthy and emerging efforts and drawn lessons from commercial-sector approaches in related fields of practice. However, the committee reminds readers that evaluation of these and future efforts is a crucial need. In addition, the committee formulated the following findings and conclusions:
|9-1||The commercial sector currently plays a role in facilitating commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
|9-2||Certain commercial-sector companies are well positioned to address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, both independently and in collaboration with prosecutors and other government entities. At a minimum, commercial-sector companies’ businesses should not facilitate harm to children.
|9-3||Companies that have been most successful in addressing commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors have drawn on their core capabilities to create a response.
|9-4||Depending on its expertise and core capabilities, a particular company might be best positioned to help address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors through prevention, assistance to law enforcement, or victim assistance.
|9-5||Further research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of existing commercial-sector initiatives aimed at supporting efforts to prevent, identify, and respond to commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, with a view to developing models or best practices for commercial-sector entities seeking to address these crimes.
|9-6||Both civil and criminal law can be used to provide incentives for companies to apply their existing capacities or develop new|
|capacities to help address commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors, or at least minimize the likelihood that their business will be used by traffickers and others to exploit children and adolescents.
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