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Slavery vs Child Porn

Slavery Still Exists!

We all like to think of slavery as a problem from the 19th century, but it still exists and is a significant problem! Kevin Bales gave an interesting TED talk about how to combat modern slavery [1]. Currently there are an estimated 27,000,000 slaves in the world, it’s a lot but it’s a smaller proportion of the world population in slavery than at any time in history. Also the price of slaves is lower than ever before, instead of being a capital asset a slave is a disposable item (this is really bad for the slaves).

The estimated average cost to liberate a slave is $US400, this involves rescuing them from slavery and teaching them the skills that they need to have a sustainable life – there’s no point rescuing them only to have them get captured again! Kevin notes that the US is still paying the price of the botched emancipation of 1865, so the liberation of slaves really needs to be done properly.

The estimated total cost to liberate all the slaves in the world is $US10.8 billion. Think about the trillions of dollars that have been spent on wars to supposedly liberate people, when a mere $US10.8 billion would liberate all slaves. That’s a fraction of the cost of the proposed National Broadband Network – which would you rather have, fast net access for cable TV services or a world without slavery?

Censorship of Child-Porn (and other things) vs Liberating Slaves

It is often claimed that child porn needs to be stopped to prevent there being economic incentives to molest children in other countries, to achieve this goal the Australian government wants to filter all net access to prevent access to child-porn, other prohibited porn, documentation about euthanasia, and the occasional dental practice (seriously, they just can’t get their filters right).

Methods that are proven to prevent children being molested should be given a much higher priority than censoring the Internet in the hope of removing economic incentives for child abuse.

It seems reasonable to assume that a significant portion of child-slaves are molested (because we know that slave owners are really bad people and there’s nothing to stop them from molesting children). Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that 1/4 of child slaves are molested. So that would give an average cost of $US1600 to free one child from sexual slavery and three other children from physically abusive environments.

Currently the Australian government plans to spend $44,000,000 in Internet censorship with the supposed aim of protecting the children. The fact that the majority of child-porn is believed to be transferred via protocols other than HTTP has not deterred the government from pushing forward a HTTP-only filter for censorship. Also the fact that anyone could use a VPN, tor, or other services to trivially bypass a HTTP filter has not deterred them.

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that $US400 equates to $500 Australian, the exchange rate is lower than that but it varies and it’s best to be conservative. Therefore the $44,000,000 the government wants to spent on censorship could be used to liberate 88,000 child slaves. If my estimates are correct that would save 22,000 children from being molested. In the unlikely event that slavers happen to be nice people who don’t do nasty things like molest children (which really isn’t credible) then freeing 88,000 children from slavery and all the physical abuse that it involves is still a really good thing!

If a plan to prevent child sexual abuse by liberating slaves fails to actually prevent any sexual abuse then at least you end up with some freed slaves (which is a really good thing). But if a plan to prevent child sexual abuse by censoring the Internet fails then all you end up with is slower Internet access and censorship of totally unrelated things that the government doesn’t like.

4 comments to Slavery vs Child Porn

  • David T.

    Although freeing all slaves is a good thing to do and would probably reduce the number of new child pornography created, I am not sure if it will be as effective as you hope. About 60% of all sexual abuse of children happens by someone close (family, “friends”, neighbours).

    (Freeing slaves is still a much better way to spend government money than trying to censor the WWW.)

  • RichiH

    I just wrote a lengthy reply and Iceweasel ate it.

    Long long story short:

    By buying slaves, you give an incentive to create more slaves while increasing their value.

    Factories still need workers, slaves still need food, first-wolders still want cheap stuff.

    In Africa, one of the well-digging projects forces villages to stop circumsizing girls in exchange. One village broke the promise and their well was filled in again. Guess what the other villages did not do.

  • sin

    What’s with the blocking of euthanasia documentation all about in Australia ? I mean ok, I can understand the child porn thingie, but other stuff ?

  • etbe

    David: I agree that a large portion of child abuse is from trusted adults (relatives, teachers, priests, etc). But in terms of what can be relatively easily stopped stopping slavery seems an easy target.

    RichiH: Sorry about that being eaten. What browser do you use? IceWeasel/Firefox won’t lose your comment in that situation even if you lack the Lazarus plugin.

    If you watch the TED talk (which is really good) then you will note that the speaker clearly makes that point. Liberating slaves starts with criminal prosecution of slavers. Then the slaves are given some education so that they can get paid work.

    Good point about well building project.

    sin: Well you aren’t allowed to publish a book about euthanasia, so the great firewall of Australia which is claimed to be just about child-porn will block it among many other things. Give someone a hammer and they treat every problem as a nail.