Modern slavery, technically defined as human trafficking, remains to be one of the biggest problems facing the world, with powerful entities playing key roles in cross-border trafficking rings. In the Philippines, a source country for such activities, social media has become the new frontlines, with digital traffickers exploiting young victims online.
Joining the fight against exploitation, live-streaming platform KUMU joins the fray with their new partnership with NGO Voice of the Free.
Internet-mediated sex tourism
According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, social media has “amplified age-old pressures for teenage girls to conform to certain sexualized narratives.”
Locally, the sex tourism trade has widely become internet-mediated, with social media sites being the preferred avenue for prostitution transactions preying on women and minors. In 2018 alone, the number of victims rose to 784,000, placing the Philippines in 12th place in the list of countries with the highest incidences of modern-day slavery.
The KUMU team recently visited the Voice of the Free shelter to formalize a partnership that aims to keep livestreaming spaces safe, as well as cement the app as a wholesome and exploitation-free platform.
“KUMU’s partnership with Voice of the Free, an anti-human trafficking institution that we truly believe in, allows us to disseminate useful information to our Kumunities about the dangers of human trafficking,” says the app’s Chief of Staff and Head of Community James Rumohr. “By sharing Voice of the Free’s Sundance short films on the platform, we can raise awareness and engage both local and international users in relevant discussions on this sensitive subject and teach them how they can spot red flags when they go online.”
KUMU is taking the next steps to push the fight to the country’s colleges and universities by livestreaming Voice of the Free’s iFight events on the app. They hope to draw support and encourage volunteerism among users for their forthcoming sustainable programs for rescued victims. “We believe that social media should be an avenue that promotes camaraderie, creativity, and community instead of exploitation,” says Rumohr.
Voice of the Free has been in the fight against human trafficking since 1991. It continues to empower women and children in the country by opening up income-generating opportunities and lobbying laws that put an end to child labor and further strengthen the resolve against human trade. “We are so glad and grateful to be partnering with Kumu Philippines in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery,” says Voice of the Free Executive Director Sherryl Loseno. “Today, slavery has mutated completely and has penetrated the internet. Everyone is vulnerable, especially the youth and the present generation.”