For all the progress that we have seemingly made on the road to civilization, human trafficking continues to be that stubborn thorn in the side of the world. It is not Polio or Smallpox where the efforts of a few people coupled with decades have all but eradicated its existence, but something that requires the entire world together and vigilantly in order to stamp out its existence wherever it is tolerated, promoted, or ignored.
At the same time that it took me to voluntarily write those words, it is estimated that 2.5 million people worldwide were forced into labor of some sort. For the amount of complaining that people do about their jobs, try to remember that at least you have a choice to quit or seek other employment and your complaints are rarely, if ever, met by a beating.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced the launch of the Google Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network at an event in Washington D.C. hosted by the Google Ideas think tank. In addition to the hotline, Google pledged $3 million dollars to the project, you may remember that Google spent $11.5 million in 2011 towards the same end. Their hope is to connect the three largest (anti) human trafficking NGOs: Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada International together along with other groups working to stamp out this growing problem.
The UN’s Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimates that 21 million people globally are essentially held in slavery. Of this number, 56 percent are in Asia and the majority are between the ages of 18 and 24. Additionally, nearly half of this number is forced into the sex trade.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) hopes that with its hotline and network that emerging trends in the trafficking industry will be broken up before they become entrenched in a region. These numbers are of course a best guess and unfortunately could be a gross understatement.
“Looking at the existing data, we found that the number of reports in the US of sex workers calling a hotline because they’re being controlled by a pimp is double on Wednesday than on any other day of the week,” Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, told the Atlantic when discussing what data applications can reveal.
This shadow industry is estimated to be worth as much as $35 billion and will require diligence, technology, and money in order to bring it to the sunlight to wither and die.
Kkudos to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for doing their part.