What Motivates Parry

There are 3 Things That Motivate Parry to Do What She Does :

  1. Parry believes in the power of digital innovation to change the world and improve the lives of people, giving them access to information, education, healthcare and community. Parry is dedicated to making sure that this access is safe, privacy and secure and "does no harm."
     

  2. Parry has seen first hand how empowering digital technology can be, especially for children, remote communities, women and senior citizens. But, without the digital life skills they need to access digital technology, these groups will be left further behind. She is dedicated to helping the developers design more responsive technology and "remember the human" in their programming, while helping create digital life skills programs to improve access and empowerment.
     

  3. Parry is a warrior, always involved in protecting the weaker, smaller and more vulnerable in all aspects of life. But her passion is in protecting young people from sexual exploitation, harm and self-harm in connection with digital technology. She addresses sex-trafficking, sexual exploitation images, cyberbullying and digital attacks against children in all forms. She donates her work in this area because of an image she encountered 23 years ago.

The Little Girl in the Picture (in Parry's own words)...

Many of you have asked me what got me into cybersafety, cybercrimes against children prevention and investigations and my work in protecting children online. Explaining how I became one of the world's first cyberlawyers is a much easier story, both to write and to read. (I suggest that those of you who are more sensitive read another one of my posts. This may be too hard to handle.) 

I do what I do for a little girl I will never meet, whose name I will never know, whose pain I could not stop and whose life I could not alter. For that, I will always regret. I consider it one of my life's failures. No success or award can change that. For me this is very personal. I think of her every morning when I awaken, and every night when I close my eyes.

Many, many years ago (1995), I ran a very successful and influential boutique law firm, with offices in NY, NJ and Moscow, Russia. We were among the first to practice cyberlaw and created the Virtual Law Firm, which housed many lawyers like us who had escaped big firms, governmental positions and in-house counsel roles.  I had written the first book in the world on cybersafety (because my mother made me) in 1996. And, I was starting to appear on TV and cable news shows for more than legal advice. I had become one of the first voices for cybersafety who also believed in the power of digital technology for good.

Someone from Argentina saw me on CNN International, and emailed me with a link and a plea to shutdown the site and put the people behind it in jail. The link was to an internal page that just listed names of graphics hosted on the site - "Maria3," Juan2", etc. I clicked on the link for Maria. In those days, images took a long time to load, and started in this case from the top down. I saw a little girl (about 3-1/2) starting to load. She had dark hair,and her eyes tightly closed. Then I realized that she was not clothed and saw the rest of the gruesome image.

A man was sexually molesting her in the most graphic way. And, to make it even worse, she had to pose for the camera. That's why she had her eyes closed. To protect what little part of herself she could protect.

I got sick to my stomach and cried for hours. The next morning, I gave up my practice to devote a year, unpaid, to finding her. I never found her.

We worked with law enforcement officials globally and shut down many child sex-trafficking rings and traced thousands of child pornography images. We brought home many children, but never her.

I don't know if she is still alive. I don't know if she was rescued by someone else. I don't know if the abuse ever stopped. But I know, no matter how many children we have saved, that I did not save this one.

So, now you know why I do what I do. And why one year wasn't enough. 

© 2019 Parry Aftab, Esq. All Rights Reserved

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