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How IJM is Using Technology to End Human Trafficking

IJM and partners are fighting modern slavery with advanced tools

In a matter of seconds, 12-year-old Solenn* was sexually abused in real-time, robbed of her dignity and innocence as paying customers around the world watched from the comfort of their homes. Online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is a form of trafficking that has dramatically increased during COVID-19-related quarantine and lock-down periods. Tragically, the youngest child IJM has rescued from OSEC is two months old, and the average age is 11 years. It is turning childhood into a daily nightmare for boys and girls like Solenn.

For 25 years, International Justice Mission (IJM) has been on the front lines, standing against injustices toward people in poverty. Through persistence and valued partnerships, we have helped over 76,000 children, women and men escape slavery, exploitation and abuse—and held their abusers accountable for their crimes. Here are three ways IJM’s advanced technology has played a key role in ending OSEC and what you can do to help:

  1. Technology helps IJM monitor cyber space to protect the innocent. There are an estimated 750,000 predators online at any given moment, and the Global Fusion Center, an analytics hub based out of IJM’s global office, helps us monitor red flags, track a predator’s virtual footprint and prevent abuse before it begins. The Global Fusion Center uses open-source information, geospatial mapping, satellite-based technology and advanced analytical techniques to catch criminals. Identifying trends and patterns is a critical first step in tracking an individual’s digital footprint.

  2. Technology helps IJM locate victims and perpetrators to rescue the innocent. On April 12, 2019, Philippine authorities arrested a Filipino man who was once EUROPOL’s most-wanted criminal. His crime was producing and distributing images and videos of children being sexually abused. IJM’s Global Fusion Center played a huge role in his capture, helping local authorities identify him through data and pinpoint his exact location. IJM has been working with local governments for over 25 years and has rescued over 76,000 victims from situations of slavery, violence and abuse and convicted over 4,600 criminals. Through the Global Fusion Center, IJM will be expanding capabilities through innovative technology like maritime analytics to identify, monitor and track “dark vessels” associated with labor trafficking.

  3. Technology helps IJM equip, train and mentor law enforcement partners to preemptively stop traffickers. IJM field offices and international law enforcement partners will receive cutting-edge experience necessary to proactively identify suspects, locate victims, determine areas of interest and collect non-testimonial evidence to support prosecutorial efforts. “IJM’s frontline experience has demonstrated that perpetrators of human trafficking will only persist if the crime remains relatively risk-free,” wrote Nate King, IJM's director of U.S. congressional affairs. “When government systems respond as they should to increase the risk of criminal sanction, word spreads, and opportunistic offenders stop exploiting others. Communities see this and begin to trust their local justice system more. A virtuous cycle of perpetrator accountability, survivor-centered protection and the prevention of future crimes prevails.”

IJM's vision is to rescue millions, protect half a billion and make justice unstoppable for people in poverty. We envision a world where people are safe in their communities; where rescues are no longer necessary because people are never exploited in the first place. Will you help us create this world?

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Speak Up.

Your voice matters. Join the movement and advocate with IJM to end all forms of human trafficking — including OSEC — through government action. Follow IJM Advocacy for updates on the latest opportunities to let your representatives know this issue is important to you.

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