Most of my what if? questions are concerning imagining the world differently, but not really thing we can take practical action on. There are already some organizations out there doing similar work, IJM, Not For Sale, and Perverted-Justice (from To Catch a Predator).
I was reading the book Freakonomics and it talks a lot about how the right incentives can help guide peoples actions. Shame is a powerful (negative) incentive, and I think can and should be used to help deter heinous crimes, like pedophilia. Ever since I first heard about the terrible sex trafficking that occurs worldwide I had a thought we should find ways to expose the businessmen fueling the business. A few years back I saw a Dateline special featuring IJM (International Justice Mission) and their work in the South Pacific bringing freedom to young girls forced into sex slavery and justice to the criminal brothel owners and others involved. In the feature, dateline used it’s investigative journalism to videotape a US businessman visiting brothels in Cambodia, and then they confronted him in the United States. (Here is the video below)
Dateline Special Report: Children for sale
Even before the To Catch a Predator shows started, I figured digital cameras and the internet could help expose and shame business men entering brothels, thereby draining the demand and thus keeping children in their homes, rather then being lured into sex slavery.
Here’s my idea. A photographer (paid or volunteer) takes high quality pictures of those entering known brothels. These pictures are then posted online. IDing the pictures would be difficult and time consuming, but wide spread advertising could help with that. If you effectively spread the word so that every concerned friend, wife or peer knew about the website, you would probably accomplish your goal. Say pictures were posted daily (maybe blog style), divided up by city or region. If you knew someone going on an overseas business trip, you could check the site for their photograph. I could explain more, but I think you get the basic idea.
The goal of the site wouldn’t be to have people arrested (IJM does great work on that front), rather it would be to use public shame to bring down the terrible industry. I think shame can be a powerful deterrent.
I’d love to see a group with resources like Not For Sale adopt this strategy. The fact that slavery, and particularly sex slavery, exist in our world today is disturbing and atrocious. It is something we all need to be involved in addressing and doing what we can to put an end to it.
“…it’s the ugliest, most preventable, man-made disaster on our global today.” -Gary Haugen