Malaysian Police Uncover 28 Suspected Human Trafficking Camps

By: Luis Gay

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

malaysian graves

Malaysian police claim that they have discovered 28 suspected human trafficking camps located near the Northern Malaysian border, one day after authorities uncovered multiple mass graves. National police chief Gen Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters that they had discovered what they believed to be 139 graves.


Dense jungles in northern Malaysia and southern Thailand have been a popular route for smugglers to bring victims into Southeast Asia from Burma by boat. Most of those being smuggled are Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing from persecution. The current findings of jungle camps and graves have stirred regional concern about human trafficking and smuggling. This discovery follows repeated denials by Malaysian officials that such activity exists; these same officials have been previously accused multiple times by human rights groups of not doing enough to prevent illegal trade. The biggest camp discovered could have housed up to 300 people and another about 100. Enclosures were made of wooden fencing and tarpaulin. At the sites, storage boxes for bullets and white clothes traditionally used to wrap dead bodies in Muslim burial rituals were found. The evidence strongly suggests of a large-scale operation of human trafficking in the region and officials suspect that they will discover more bodies as they investigate further.

Khalid noted that some camps were fairly old, with at least one highly decomposed body made up of only skin and bone. Other camps had rice, vegetables, and cooked meals, showing signs of abandonment as early as two weeks. Khalid told reporters than an investigation is being carried out and will not condone anyone involved in these crimes, including Malaysian officials. He also explained that no action was taken earlier because the police was building up intelligence based on 37 arrests of suspects of human trafficking, which included two policemen. As of today, there have been no arrests in connection to the 139 grave sites.

This revelation brings attention to a battle that Malaysia has been involved in for quite some time: migration under the operation of criminal syndicates. The latest example occurred on May 22, 2015, where 3,500 migrants were still stranded on overloaded vessels with very little supplies as they wait to enter Malaysia. Malaysia and Indonesia have allowed those at sea to come ashore temporarily. Thailand will not allow migrant boats to land, although will treat anybody who is ill or injured.

Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Yi, Lih Ben. 25May2015. “Malaysia migrant mass graves: police reveal 139 sites, some with multiple corpses”. The Guardian. [Accessed 26 May 2015]


Photo Credit:

This photo was taken by James Nachtwey and can be found in an article in TIME magazine. [Accessed 26 May 2015]

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Earthquakes in Nepal Exacerbate Child Marriage

By: Sara Kim
Edited By: Sharon E. Chin


According to the United Nations, 1 out of every 3 girls in developing countries are married off before they turn the age of 18. Girls are typically forced into matrimony because their families cannot afford to care for them, or because the groom’s family receives financial gain from the bride’s dowry. Because the amount of dowry increases as the girls get older, many poor families try to wed their daughters as early as they can.

Nepal exemplifies the child-bride culture, where 10% of Nepalese girls are given over to marriage before they reach the age of adulthood. Although some may argue that child-brides are part of certain cultures and should be left alone, opponents to child marriage contend that this custom increases the likelihood of complications during birth as well as exposure to sexual and domestic abuse. Many times, becoming a child bride robs a girl of their chance to fully appreciate their childhood and finish their education.

Nepal had undertaken a strategy to combat child marriage, but recent earthquakes in the country have undermined such efforts. Not only did it bring a halt to the strategy, but experts predict that the earthquakes triggered increased rates of child marriage and sex trafficking. Because many children lost their parents in the disaster, there are more vulnerable children for sex traffickers to prey upon.

Anand Tamang, the director of a Nepalese campaign to combat child marriage (CREHPA), reported that many girls have been raped in refugee sites and/or kidnapped to be sold into sex trafficking. In order to protect their daughters, parents have increased their efforts to immediately marry them off. Even the government cannot intervene at this point since their current priority lies in rebuilding the country from the catastrophe. Such conditions make a perfect environment for defenseless girls to fall victim to abuses amidst what some consider the deadliest natural disaster known to the Himalayas.

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: Batha, Emma. “Child marriages, trafficking will soar after Nepal quake.” F. World. May 20, 2015. URL: Date accessed 5/20/15.

Photo Credit: AFP/ Getty Images/ P. Mathema.

Program Assistance Helped Save Filipina Mom from Traffickers

By: Charmaine Santos

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin


filipino momo

Joy, whose real name is withheld to protect identity, and her husband made coconut wine and sold two barrels a week to support their family in the hills of Ormoc City in the central Philippine islands. Nearly half the population in the region lives in poverty. When Super Typhoon Haiyan came in November 2013, it destroyed most of the infrastructure that laid in its path and the winds damaged up to 90% of the coconut trees in some areas. Those who depended on these coconut trees to make a living were then left with no source of income and faced even more hardships.

Having no house or food, Joy desperately sought work and found a job as a domestic helper for $50/month. After Joy moved to work in a nearby province for $70/month, Joy’s employers kept her without pay for 7 months and physically abused her. Joy could not escape and shared, “I didn’t think I would make it out alive. I thank God every day that I am still breathing.”
USAID partnered with World Vision to start the “Prevention of Trafficking in Persons through Sustainable Livelihood Recovery for Typhoon-Affected People Program” in April 2014. This program aims to reduce people’s exposure to trafficking in 10 Ormoc villages and restore farming there; Ormoc and the surrounding areas are a historical hot spot where traffickers recruit women, men and children. The yearlong project hopes to reach 14,000 people through public assemblies and campaign materials. USAID and World Vision taught the Ormoc City community how to identify and report suspicious behavior, which lead to Joy’s husband realizing that Joy was being trafficked. Her husband reported the case and Joy was rescued.

The program provided Joy’s family 2 piglets so that they can sell and invest the income into a home-based farm. Joy says, “These piglets have made it possible for us to earn income without needing to leave our village.” The assistance also helps to ensure that vulnerable families like Joy’s don’t have to consider jobs from recruiters. Joy is now confident about her future and hopes that their family can return to the coconut wine business. 

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Surviving a Super Typhoon and Escaping Traffickers in the Philippines. (2015). USAID. Retrieved May 20, 2015 from

Photo Credit:

What We Don’t Know About Egypt


egyptian street

By: Sara Kim

Fatema El-Sayed, a 20-year-old student at American University in Cairo, has taken matters into her own hands in fighting human trafficking in Egypt. El-Sayed works as an activist in areas of Cairo, Egypt, and educates the public about its grim reality through her article “We have it all.”
El-Sayed’s article describes her experiences meeting victims of human trafficking, who differed in gender, age, and backgrounds. Human trafficking, she says, is something deeply engrained into the culture of Egypt and that efforts to combat the crime are difficult.
In Egypt summer marriages are popular because young girls are sold off to foreigners just for that season. Oftentimes, it is girls from poor families who are sold off so that the family may have food to eat. Even if the girl is prosecuted for “prostitution,” traffickers typically remain blameless by law. But what makes matters worse is that this reality does not differ for other children.
Younger children on the streets are bullied by gang members and forced to beg strangers for money. Many times, the children do not receive any profit from their work. Even the men are exploited for their labor as they are forced into arduous work for little pay. In such situations, El-Sayed describes that in Egypt, people “have been taught to look the other way” and turn a blind eye to the abuse they see around them.

Despite the harsh reality, El-Sayed seeks to uproot the crime by educating potential victims to make better choices. Such efforts include persuading parents not to sell their children, encouraging younger kids to stay in school, and giving sexual harassment training to girls, but most of all, as according to El-Sayed, “praying for a little bit of magic.”

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: El-Sayed, Fatema. “We have it all.” International Human Trafficking Institute. April 21, 2015. URL: Date accessed 5/13/15.

Photo Credit: El-Sayed, Fatema, International Human Trafficking Institute.

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Eight Ways Companies Can Fight the War on Human Trafficking

two girls

By: Charmaine Santos

Modern-day slavery is estimated to directly victimize 21 million people globally, targeting men, women and children. No sector in the economy is immune; the market that drives slavery is complex and large. 

While it is difficult to pinpoint what products are slave-produced from what is not, industries are capable of making a big impact on global human rights. They wield retail power through their networks of employees, suppliers, and customers.

Corporations can take action and help fight against human trafficking by doing 8 things:

  1. Inspire leadership: Corporate leadership taking a stand and setting initiatives against trafficking may inspire other corporate leaders to do the same.
  2. Slavery-Free Supply Chains: Suppliers and vendors should sign contracts stating that they will practice responsible, slave-free trade.
  3. Training: The problem of human trafficking should be highlighted during employee training programs. Employees should be encouraged to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement or management.
  4. Philanthropy: Employee campaign funds for the purpose to fight human trafficking can be created.
  5. Volunteer: Begin a volunteer initiative fighting human trafficking or hosting corporate volunteer days.
  6. Educate the Customer: Spread human trafficking awareness to the customer.

    For example, travel agencies can educate customers on awareness language and how to spot a trafficking incident.

  7. Public Policy Outreach: Corporations can work with their local and federal governments to make initiatives against human trafficking.
  8. Partnerships: Corporations can also assess anti-trafficking resources they might need by partnering with public and civil society entities.

Different industries partnering together and getting involved with their community can make a significant change in gaining headway to the elimination of human trafficking. While ending human trafficking is not an easy problem to solve, sectors working together may be one of the most effective methods to drive down demand through accountability.

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference: Stanoch, Tammy L. (2015, Feb. 19). “8 ways companies can help end human trafficking.” World Economic Forum. Retrieved May 8, 2015 from

Photo Credit: (Felix Clay)

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