Have you ever wondered whether it was possible to create a response system to sexual exploitation that is capable of effecting system-wide disruption of sex buying? A disruption that can uplift and pave the way for cultural change? One that thrives on accountability, not impunity, and actively contributes to off-ramps out of the system of prostitution, instead of paving more on-ramps into it?
Two incredible organizations are busy doing exactly that, and they are using cutting-edge methods, innovative technologies, and human(e) touch to accomplish this!
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is thrilled to bestow the Dignity Defense Award on Street Grace and EPIK Project—two organizations that are leading the charge in combatting sexual exploitation through innovative uses of emerging technology.
Street Grace, a faith-based organization with the mission of eradicating commercial sexual exploitation of children, employs a multifaceted approach that integrates prevention, protection, and policy. This is epitomized by the Transaction Intercept program, which merges technology and law enforcement to deter men from paying to sexually abuse minors.
EPIK Project is an organization dedicated to disrupting the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking (i.e. deterring “sex buyers”) and challenging cultural landscapes that fuel sexual exploitation. EPIK champions societal change and advocates for a safer, more dignified world.
Augmented Intelligence in Action
The battle against sexual exploitation is witnessing an innovative alliance in the form of augmented intelligence. Augmented intelligence refers to the seamless integration of human and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance decision-making and problem-solving. This synergy between human intuition and machine learning algorithms allows for more efficient and effective analysis of vast amounts of data.
Street Grace and EPIK Project have emerged as true leaders in the space of Augmented Intelligence and harnessing this powerful innovation for the noble cause of combatting sexual exploitation.
Street Grace’s Transaction Intercept program utilizes an AI-powered chatbot named “Gracie” to intercept potential predators seeking illicit sexual access to minors. This sophisticated system collaborates with law enforcement, intercepting and monitoring thousands of conversations monthly, identifying individuals interested in paying to sexually abuse children, and empowering law enforcement in their vigilant oversight. In a mere 5-month period, Gracie’s intercepts spanned over 25 states and 78 cities, exchanging messages and reporting more than 6000 potential predators. This technology acts as a deterrent and brings hope for a safer digital landscape, keeping innocence protected from online sexual exploitation.
Meanwhile, EPIK Project disrupts the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking at the point of purchase. It does this through cyber patrols led by over 300 volunteers across 21 U.S. cities. This innovative approach combines AI-driven technology with the human touch, engaging potential sex buyers in conversations that educate them about the harms that stem from their behavior and challenge cultural norms fueling sexual exploitation. EPIK has logged over 250,000 attempts by an estimated 125,000 men intent on buying sexual access to another person.
Dismantling the Demand for Prostitution and Sex Trafficking
Street Grace and EPIK Project are not merely seeking to deter sex buyers; they’re actively working towards eliminating the demand that fosters sex trafficking. Their efforts reverberate through communities and their success stories are a testament to the power of technology in fostering societal change.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation remains resolute in its stance against the demand that fuels the sexual exploitation marketplace. This is discussed at length in NCOSE’s research paper entitled ‘Discouraging the Demand That Fosters Sex Trafficking: Collaboration through Augmented Intelligence,’ which was published and selected as the cover article for the journal Societies. The publication of the paper was followed by an insightful conversation with Jamey Caruthers of Street Grace, and Tom Perez, Founder and CEO of EPIK, during a Facebook Live event that touched on a range of experiences that stem from the work of the two organizations.
ACTION: Ask Your Legislators to Combat Sex Buying!
As these organizations continue their valiant efforts, their work is a rallying cry for all who value dignity and freedom. Join them in calling for an end to the demand that fuels all commercial sexual exploitation! Take 30 seconds to complete this quick action form, asking your local elected officials to adopt policies that increase accountability for sex buyers!
NCOSE’s Dignity Defense Award (formerly Dignity Defense Alert) is a campaign recognizing the people, companies, and nonprofits who are taking action to defend human dignity from any form of sexual abuse or exploitation. Read more here.