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Polaris Project: Combating Human Trafficking or The Helping Hand of Hypocrisy?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Brett Hetherington       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Marie Claire magazine recently ranked them at number four in their 10 Best Charities but does Polaris Project
deserve our donations or are they closely connected with individuals and organizations that put profit before people?

While they undoubtedly do some very worthwhile work against people-smuggling, Polaris Project has chosen to accept funds and support from sources that can only bring their claim to be a humanitarian organisation into serious question.

Mega-retailer, The Home Depot, which Polaris Project calls a 'supporter and partner,' is estimated to be worth $30 billion. They have seemingly gained a great deal of this wealth by exploitation of their workers, including the use of 11-hour shifts, and have faced accusations of sexual harassment as well as allegations of racist treatment of minorities. Home Depot has also sparked considerable community outrage at their aggressive, Starbucks-style pushing out of small competitors as well as for their continued sale of rainforest and old growth timber products.

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One of Polaris Project's other major financial backers is the Japanese branch of the giant software corporation, Oracle. They have been touted as "the next Microsoft," having achieved their size by swallowing up as many rivals as possible and sacking thousands of workers when they felt it to be economically expedient. Another of Polaris Project's corporate donors is the Iconix Brand Group, the licensing company behind clothing labels such as Joe Boxer, Mossimo, Mudd and London Fog. They reported a net income of approximately $44.5 million for just nine months of last year. In doing so, they broke U.S. anti-trust laws in October 2007 and had to pay $550,000 to settle related charges.

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While they are happily taking money from big business, Polaris Project has also been keen to publicise awards that they have received from a number of companies, who have passed-on money with the award. One of these is the kids' volunteering website:, who recently gave them an "Honor for Innovation and Effectiveness."

Polaris' decision to align themselves so closely with Do Something is more than surprising because young visitors to their website cannot avoid seeing flashing logos for a number of "Sponsors that rock." These include Doritos, who food scientists have pointed the finger at for lying about their damaging food additives and Pepsi Cola, who used rapper Ludacris to promote their product even after the howls of outrage over his song "Move Bitch," where he threatens both violence to a girlfriend as well as road rage against anyone getting in his way.

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Another prominently pictured advertising link on the Do Something site is for Karma Tycoon, who promise that they "rock the gaming world by offering you a thrilling ride through the world of social entrepreneurship as you earn Karma in virtual communities across the US." JP Morgan Chase which calls itself "a leading global financial services firm with assets of $1.5 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries" is also a paid-up supporter of Do Something, as is Polaris' controversial partner, The Home Depot.

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Brett Hetherington is a freelance writer and teacher living in Catalonia, northern Spain. Some of his work can be found in The Australian Journalism Review, Barcelona Metropolitan, Catalonia Today, Reportage magazine, OpEd News and the Costa Brava (more...)

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