2019 Dirty Dozen List: 12 Mainstream Companies and Entities Facilitating Sexual Violence and Exploitation

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation released its 2019 “Dirty Dozen List” on Monday.

The list details “mainstream” companies and entities that are considered to be “facilitators of sexual exploitation in our society and culture.”

This year’s list includes some new faces — a state, a leading massage parlor chain and an airline — as well as several tech and media companies that continue to be called out by the organization purveying sexual violence and exploitation.

NCOSE is a U.S.-based non-profit advocacy group that seeks to expose “the links between all forms of sexual exploitation.” The organization has produced the list every year since 2013.

The list aims to pressure and “shame” these entities to stop facilitating sexual exploitation. In some cases, the list has produced noticeable results and changes in organizational policy.

“No corporation should profit from or facilitate sexual exploitation,” Haley Halverson, NCOSE vice president of advocacy and outreach, said prior to the press conference unveiling the report.

“Unfortunately, many well-established brands, companies, and organizations in America do just that. Since 2013, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has published an annual Dirty Dozen List to name and shame the mainstream players in America that perpetuate sexual exploitation — whether that be through sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, sexual violence and/or pornography.”

In the following pages are the 12 entities deemed “major, mainstream facilitators of sexual exploitation in the United States.”

Nevada
Nevada is the only government entity to ever be featured on the Dirty Dozen List. According to NCOSE, the state has become a “home base” for pimps and sex traffickers.

Nevada is also the only state in the entire United States where prostitution is legal. The organization accuses Nevada of legally sanctioning “male sexual entitlement.”

NCOSE points out that Nevada’s sexual exploitation industry has a “predatory dependence on women with economic disadvantages” and women with “childhood histories of neglect and sexual abuse.”

“The most emblematic measure of women’s true status in any society is reflected in its prostitution laws,” Lisa Thompson, NCOSE vice president of policy and research, said during the press conference unveiling the report. “Are women public sexual commodities under the law or not? In Nevada, of course, the answer to that question is yes.”

Since 1971, Nevada has given its rural counties the legal right to decide whether to legalize brothel-based prostitution, in which as many as 10 of its countries have chosen to do so. As of last year, there were 21 brothels active throughout the state.

Because of the normalization of prostitution work, NCOSE argues that Nevada has turned into “a magnet for sex traffickers and prostitution tourists.” As result, illegal sex trafficking trade in Nevada is the largest in the nation.

“In fact, Nevada has the highest rates of an illegal sex trade in the country, adjusted for population,” the Dirty Dozen List explains. “It is 63 percent higher than the next highest state of New York and double that of Florida.”

Additionally, a recent audit of legal brothels in Lyon County discovered that 34 percent of Lyon County’s legal sex workers showed signs of human trafficking.

Massage Envy
The country’s largest chain of franchised massage spas, Massage Envy, has found its way on the Dirty Dozen List as it is being sued by hundreds of women for “failing to take appropriate measures when a massage therapist sexually harasses or assaults a client.”

The company has over 1,270 spa locations, employs over 25,000 massage therapists and estheticians and has over 1.5 million members in 49 states.

“Among a number of poor policies, the company has hidden clauses in customer agreements which force women to surrender their rights and many former employees report being trained to do all in their power not to encourage police to show up at their location,” NCOSE Executive Director Dawn Hawkins said during the press conference.

“Massage Envy does not even require reporting of suspected assaults to the massage therapy board. A number of cases against Massage Envy involve prior complaints of sexual assault by customers to management and them doing nothing about it. This has resulted in perpetrators continuing to prey on vulnerable clients.”

One woman from New Jersey appeared at NCOSE’s press conference Monday and explained that she was sexually assaulted during her third visit to the massage parlor.

“All I wanted to do is run,” the woman said. “The last word out of the therapist’s mouth was ‘can I get a cash tip?’”

Hawkins stressed, “They have long known about the problem of assaults on their tables, yet they have only just recently made serious policy improvements to try to curb and deal with these issues. We applaud their progress but we deplore the length of time that it took for such movement to be made.”

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
Although Sports Illustrated is known for telling the stories of athletes and providing hard-hitting sports journalism, every year it releases its annual Swimsuit Issue.

Since 1964, the magazine has produced an edition featuring photos of female supermodels dressed in very slim bikinis and in some cases topless. More recently, the issue has featured risque photos of prominent female athletes.

NCOSE claims that the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue “sends the message that women’s bodies are for public consumption.”

“These images are not about empowerment at all. They are about feeding male sexual entitlement, and the mega-corporation that are profiting off of hypersexualizing women,” Halverson said. “We have to recognize that women who have achieved remarkable athletic feats do not deserve to be put back into the box of male sexual accessibility in order to promote body positivity or empowerment.”

NCOSE says that CVS Pharmacy, the national chain of drug stores, stopped selling the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in early 2018.

“A senior director told me ‘We share your organization’s concerns about female objectification, which is one of the reasons CVS Pharmacy created new standards for beauty and imagery in our stores,” Halverson added. “We want to thank CVS for this commitment to social responsibility.”

Netflix
With over 51 million subscribers in the United States, Netflix is one of the leading subscription online media streaming services. The platform is a great platform to watch movies and original series. However, Netflix is being criticized for normalizing “sexual exploitation and objectification.”

“A Netflix subscription also includes sexually graphic and degrading content,” Hawkins said during the press conference.

According to Hawkins, Netflix produces media portraying gratuitous nudity, graphic sex acts and even graphic depictions of sexual assault.

With over 300 original productions, Hawkins stated that Netflix puts most of its advertising dollars for original shows toward content that is rated TV-MA for mature audiences.

“These products frequently contain graphic sex scenes, nudity and violence,” she said. “Our team of researchers looked into the 10 of the top original Netflix titles which they promote. We found that nine out of 10 of their features depicted online sex scenes and 80 percent of those titles displayed explicit nudity in their pilot program. Part of the problem is that the material with the sexually graphic and violent scenes is often placed right next to child-themed content as well.”

Hawkins explained Netflix parental controls are “inadequate” because the platform doesn’t provide any way to lock down the parental controls. She said that even kids three years in age are able to “navigate out of the parental control protected safe space on Netflix.”

NCOSE is also concerned that Netflix has given itself a “misleading” rating on mobile app stores. Netflix claims that it is suitable for children ages four and over.

NCOSE takes issue with shows like “13 Reasons Why” in which multiple episodes depicted graphic sexual assault and showed nudity of actresses who are supposed to be teenagers.

Another show of concern for NCOSE is “Baby,” which follows a group of teenagers on their quest to “buck social norms through prostitution.”

“It portrays underage prostitution, which by definition is sex trafficking, as an edgy coming of age story summarizing trafficking of some of our most vulnerable,” Hawkins contended.

Google
NCOSE claims that the web giant Google has “failed to prioritize the digital well-being of its users through Google Chromebooks used in schools, Google Images, and YouTube.”

While Google has made some changes in the past that have pleased NCOSE, such as making its “Safe Search” feature more noticeable and accessible for parents, the organization still has much work to do to protect its users from unwanted hardcore pornography.

“There is so much bad content being pulled in from Google images, often directly from hardcore pornography websites,” Hawkins declared. “If a child were to look up the term ‘sex’ in Google images, … kids are going to be exposed within a fraction of a second to hardcore pornographic images. These images are depicting sex acts, often with the focus on genitalia. Many of the images that populate just with the term ‘sex’ depict group gangbangs, depicting rape. This is what our young people are seeing when they are simply looking to understand [the term.]”

As for Google-owned YouTube, sexually explicit content is regularly uploaded.

“The problem is that YouTube fixes problems ad-hoc — whenever they receive concentrated media attention but they are doing very little to proactively monitor or restrict inappropriate content,” Hawkins stressed. “They are forcing users to go through a rigorous process whenever they want to report for removal.”

While Google Chromebooks and G Suit are used by 70 million educators and students worldwide, many schools are providing their students with “unprotected and unfiltered Chromebooks when Google could easily turn on a default setting for safer use by children.”

“Google does provide measures for system-wide subscribers like schools to filter and prevent certain content from access on school devices,” said Hawkins. “The problem is that many of our school’s IT administrators are very confused by the process of turning these on and monitoring them. As a result, students are often using their school-assigned devices to access material with hardcore pornography.”

NCOSE would like to see Google assist schools by turning on the filtering tools as a default to block pornographic content on Chromebooks provided for school use.

Roku
Another leading media streaming company, Roku is again listed on the Dirty Dozen List because of the fact that it is a popular way for people to get backdoor access to hardcore pornographic material on their televisions.

Through the use of private Roku channels on the open-platform streaming devices, porn companies have created hundreds of private porn channels accessible through the devices.

“These channels are anything but private,” Thompson said. “The fact that Roku leaves its backdoor open to pornographers is applauded by the pornography industry, which widely advertises Roku on its various platforms and at pornography industry conventions.”

Thompson added that pornographers have gone so far that they are now offering people free Roku devices with taglines like “Put Porn on Your TV.”

“Pornography channels on Roku depict teen, incest, slavery and violent themes,” she warned. “This confederation between Roku and the pornography industry contrasts to practices of other streaming device industry leaders such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, which exclude pornography from their platforms.”

Twitter
The social media giant Twitter is being called out for its “non-existent” standards when it comes to the sharing of pornographic hashtags and images as well as its facilitation of sex trafficking.

“[Twitter] facilitates prostitution and sex trafficking and hosts vast quantities of hardcore pornography,” Thompson said during the press conference. “Twitter is being used to advertise prostituted persons and sex trafficking victims via tweets that feature pornographic images or hashtags that, for instance, go to webcam sites. Sometimes these tweets include offers to meet in person for so-called escort services. Sometimes they ask users to follow and pay for nude images and videos and live streaming.”

According to NCOSE, law enforcement officials have documented pimps and sex traffickers coercing sex trafficking victims to make and post online advertisements on platforms like Twitter. In other cases, it is the pimp or sex trafficker that is making the post in the victim’s name.

“Such activity was what was on Backpage.com, the notorious classified advertising website that was recently shut down by the Department of Justice for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking,” Thompson argued. “Further, Twitter has come under fire for the vast amount of cyber-based sexual harassment, revenge pornography and even sexually exploited images of children on its platform.”

When Tumblr announced that it would no longer allow pornographic content on its platform in December, thousands of its users “flocked to twitter attracted by its virtually non-existent standards,” Thompson explained.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith