The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is proud to recognize Instacart and DoorDash for their efforts to help sex trafficking and domestic violence victims during COVID-19 as this month’s Dignity Defense Alert.
A few months ago, direct service providers from different regions of the U.S. began reaching out to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. They wanted to inform us of a trend they were seeing. Because of the global health pandemic, less men were initially purchasing women, children, or any persons, for sex (this trend has unfortunately stopped and demand for commercial sex is back up).
At first this might seem like good news, but the reality is that pimps and sex traffickers have not been setting their victims free. Instead some pimps and sex traffickers have been coercing people to enter into the gig economy and to hand any profits they make back to their exploiters.
In addition, we know that domestic violence is increasing during COVID-19, as people are confined at home with their abusers. We have likewise heard that intimate partners have also pushed their victims to take jobs like this.
While we agree that it is likely safer for these vulnerable persons to be away from their abusers, it is not ok if they have no control over their finances. To turn this horrible situation into a positive, we saw this as a chance to reach out to these individuals with exit resources.
In response, Instacart and DoorDash have collaborated with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to provide resources and hotlines for victims of these abuses on their apps. These messages and resources are potentially life-saving to victims who may use the app, and they are particularly important during this time when the number of outreach efforts to both sex trafficking and domestic violence victims have declined due to the pandemic.
Instacart: “The safety of all members of the shopper community is our top priority at Instacart. We always want to ensure that shoppers have the resources they need to help keep them safe, and we’re grateful for the work of organizations like the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to support individuals in their time of need.”
Jerry Ruoti, Director of Trust and Safety at DoorDash: “DoorDash’s top priorities are the physical and economic health of our community, and we’re honored to partner with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to support the safety and wellbeing of Dashers during this difficult time. This heartbreaking abuse was something we knew we had to act on immediately. We will continue to do everything we can to promote the health and safety of those we serve through our platform while providing meaningful, flexible earning opportunities during this time of economic crisis.”
The entire gig economy, and all companies, should follow their example on this matter.
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The Dignity Defense Alert is a new monthly campaign to recognize the people, companies, and nonprofits, who are taking action to defend human dignity from any form of sexual abuse or exploitation.
In today’s world, it is easy to focus on those who are doing wrong – those who are abusing, or facilitating exploitation, or failing to prevent harm. There is value in raising awareness and taking action on those issues. But there is also value in acknowledging the countless individuals and entities who are doing the right thing. While not every entity we recognize in the course of this campaign is perfect in this regard, we want to thank those that are taking important steps forward.
We want to celebrate heroes who do what is right, and we want to applaud every milestone that we can in the journey towards a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Doing so both recognizes progress and encourages progress by holding up leaders and examples for others to follow, whether that is in the realm of corporations, NGOs, or individual advocates.
Do you have an individual, company, or nonprofit you would like to nominate to be recognized in a Dignity Defense Alert? Learn more and nominate entities here.