Major corporations and one state were listed on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s 2020 “Dirty Dozen List” of entities that are complicit in “perpetuating” sexual exploitation in any form.
NCOSE, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to addressing the “full-spectrum” of sexual exploitation, has put out an annual Dirty Dozen List since 2013.
The list serves as an activism tool to pressure companies with business practices that contribute to the sexual exploitation of people to change course.
Over the years, NCOSE’s campaign has had success in influencing organizations and companies to change their policies. Most recently, it was reported that United Airlines (named on the 2019 Dirty Dozen List) will better train employees to stop porn viewing on airline flights.
For the first time in its history, the list consists of a “baker’s dozen,” said NCOSE Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach Haley McNamara during the rollout of the annual list Thursday at the NCOSE office in Washington, D.C.
“No mainstream entity should profit or facilitate sexual exploitation. Unfortunately, many well-established brands, companies and organizations in America do just that,” McNamara said. “In today’s world, corporations drive our culture. They influence how people communicate, what information they receive and what trends are accepted or rejected.”
“Right now there are mainstream companies that are normalizing pornography, facilitating online sex trafficking and grooming, selling sex dolls and incest materials or promoting eroticized child nudity books,” she continued. “A culture that accepts these things will continue to create more victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking than can ever be rescued.”
In the following pages are 13 entities listed on NCOSE’s 2020 Dirty Dozen List.
SeekingArrangement is a “sugar baby and sugar daddy” dating website founded in 2006.
NCOSE labels the website as a “pseudo-dating prostitution” website that targets college students who struggle with student debt to service socio-economically advantaged older men.”
According to NCOSE, the platform has over 20 million members.
“As forms of commercial sexual exploitation continue to evolve from prostitution to pornography to webcamming and more, the phenomenon of sugar dating is one of the latest frontiers. Sugar dating is marketed as a relationship in which young attractive women can meet experienced men who can provide everything from mentorship to lavish vacations,” McNamara explained.
“In this system, men are encouraged to engage in no-strings-attached relationships with beautiful young women. Meanwhile, sugar babies, as they are called, are misled that this experience will empower them and benefit them financially.”
McNamara argued that the “truth behind sugaring” tells a “much darker story” of deception and violence.
SeekingArrangement is the “largest hub of this new form of sexual exploitation,” McNamara said, noting that the website even gives free accounts to users with a school email address.
“As a result, SeekingArrangement claims to have 3 million college students on its platform primed to become sexually accessible to more socially economically advantaged men,” she stressed. “What we are seeing here is the capitalization and sexual exploitation to an entire generation’s economic vulnerability as the student debt crisis climbs to the trillions of dollars. No student should have sexual barter for their education.”
According to McNamara, many people don’t realize that sugar dating can amount to prostitution because the exchanges involve socializing. However, she warned that the premise of seeking the relationships are based on a power “counter imbalance” that favor the men.
McNamara pointed out that the Apple App Store does not list the SeekingArrangement app but called out GooglePlay for hosting the app.
NCOSE is calling out the financial services corporation Visa for partnering with the pornography industry to process payments for pornography.
During the rollout event, NCOSE Executive Director Dawn Hawkins called on Visa to stop providing “the infrastructure to the sexual exploitation industry.”
“Visa is supporting and normalizing the pornography industry despite the impact that it has on public health or people in pornography indirectly,” she said. “The pornography industry is not just another industry. The pornography industry has bragged about spending more than $1 million to actively lobby against protections meant to ensure that children and minors are not used in mainstream pornography.”
Hawkins said that popular pornography websites that Visa partners with have “been caught hosting videos of sex-trafficked women and children” and also post “videos of children being sexually abused.”
“When women come to these websites asking that the videos of their abuse be taken down, they refuse to and they instead make millions of dollars using Visa’s payment processor,” Hawkins said. “Is this the kind of content that Visa is willing to endorse?”
Amazon, one of the largest e-commerce websites in the world, was included on the 2020 Dirty Dozen List for a number of reasons.
One, according to NCOSE, is Amazon’s selling of things such as “incest-themed porn, sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, and pornographic magazines.”
NCOSE called out the media streaming platform Amazon Prime Video for inserting “unnecessary, gratuitous nudity and simulated sex scenes” into many of its original programs while providing “faulty” parental controls.
Additionally, NCOSE criticized Amazon S3 and Amazon Web Services for hosting “thousands of hardcore violent pornography and prostitution websites.”
Hawkins accused Amazon of peddling “endless amounts of sexual exploitation.”
“There appears to be thousands of incest-themed pornographic books under the erotic section on Amazon’s Kindle and Amazon.com,” Hawkins said. “Incest is a prevalent form of sexual abuse and according to conservative estimates, 34 percent of child sexual abusers are family members. The real-life trauma these books sexualize and normalize is not a trifling matter. It leaves physical and mental scars that go on to cause pain to millions of Americans.”
NCOSE called out Amazon.com for selling sex dolls that have child-like features.
“Since launching our campaign, some have been removed from the site but many remain,” Hawkins said.
The social media video platform TikTok has over 500 million users globally with increasing popularity among children.
However, NCOSE warns that lack of moderation and safety controls has led TikTok to become a “space for sexual grooming by abusers and sex traffickers.”
“These exploiters utilize TikTok to view minor users and either comment and or message these users directly, often requesting sexually explicit videos,” NCOSE Communications Director Jake Roberson said. “An advocacy group accurately called TikTok a ‘hunting ground for predators to abuse children.’ Forbes identified TikTok as a magnet for sexual predators.”
Roberson said that even though TikTok has recently increased certain security measures and launched an online safety campaign, it “continues to operate in such a way that fails to truly protect its users, minors in particular.”
Roberson cited findings from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which surveyed over 40,000 school children. The findings show that 25 percent of children had live-streamed with a stranger. One in 20 children were asked while live streaming or in the comments of a posted video to take their clothes off.
“We know that a significant amount of children are being contacted via popular live-streaming apps, such as TikTok, by abusers who are using them as a hunting ground,” a spokesperson for the NSPCC said in response to the study.
The increasingly popular retail shopping website Wish is used by over 500 million people worldwide. NCOSE included the website on the Dirty Dozen List for selling child-like sex dolls, spy cams marketed for filming and stocking misogynistic apparel.
“Wish was ranked ahead of Amazon as the No. 1 shopping app in the U.S. this week,” NCOSE Legal Counsel Christen Price said. “But Wish has chosen to use its massive platform to facilitate and normalize abuses against and objectification of women and girls.”
Price said the sale of webcams designed to secretly film women while in a state of undress is concerning given the rise of revenge pornography.
“This abusive practice harms millions of people each year,” she said. “In South Korea where spy cam voyeurism is pervasive, a woman took her life after her colleague secretly filmed her in their hospital’s changing room. He received a 10-month sentence. Any technology can be misused but the spy cams on Wish are being advertised with pictures that encourage the misuse.”
Price said that over a year ago, NCOSE asked Wish to stop selling sex dolls. Although Wish removed some of the child-like sex dolls on its platform, it continues to market dolls resembling adult women and female body parts.
Nevada, the only state in the U.S. that has legalized brothel prostitution, has found itself once again on the Dirty Dozen List after it was first added in 2019.
According to NCOSE, Nevada is the largest illegal commercial sex market in the country.
“In fact, only 10 percent of the prostitution occurring in Nevada is actually legal,” NCOSE Legal Counsel Dani Pinter said. “The truth is that sexual violence, racism and socio-economic disparity are an integral part of the prostitution experience.”
“As recently deceased [brothel owner] Dennis Hof once said, ‘I am selling sex like McDonald’s is selling burgers,’” she added. “The truth is he was selling women, not burgers. Unlike McDonalds, the brothels are surrounded by iron gates, barbed wire and women are not allowed to bring their cars on the property. They are required to live on the premises, sometimes not being allowed to leave for weeks at a time.”
By legalizing and promoting prostitution, Pinter contends that Nevada is “profiting from the commoditization and exploitation of women.”
The United States’ largest chain of franchised massage spas with over 1,200 locations is being sued by many women who accuse the chain of failing to take appropriate measures when therapists are accused of sexual harassment or assault.
NCOSE said that Massage Envy has several “poor policies,” such as “hidden clauses in customer agreements that force women to surrender their rights.” NCOSE accuses Massage Envy of “knowingly endangering its customers.”
“Massage Envy continues to choose profits over customer safety. Massage Envy does this through dangerous and coercive policies,” Pinter said. “Massage Envy employees are actually encouraged not to call law enforcement when customers complain of sexual assault. One graphic description by a woman in her complaint describes how she came to employees to complain about sexual assault. Her perpetrator was permitted to stay in the room, watching her, smiling at her.”
She added that Massage Envy does not require incidents of sexual assault to be reported to the Massage Therapy Board.
“What this means isn’t that therapists who are accused of sexual assault can continue to work and assault women again and again with impunity,” Pinter added. “To this day, as far as [NCOSE] is aware, Massage Envy has done nothing to change or alter its policies. Sexual assaults are still occurring at Massage Envy and lawsuits continue to be filed.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith