Truckers Fighting Sex Trafficking

By: Kristine Alarcon


Sex trafficking is a serious issue in the United States. There have been 3,598 domestic sex trafficking reports to an advocacy group called The Polaris Project. Vigilante Truth, founded by Bo Quickel, hopes to help correct this problem in the truck driving population, as there is often a high demand for sex trafficking victims for truck drivers.

Vigilante Truth is a faith-based nonprofit that educates truck drivers about sex trafficking. It teaches truck drivers about how the illegal process works and helps the drivers realize that the escort they hired for the night could be a sex trafficking victim. Quickel also hopes to teach the truck drivers that the pimps that force the victims into the industry are the ones that get paid, not the escorts. It is mental manipulation, mental coercion, and physical abuse.

To help get the word out, Quickel uses Vigilante Truth to display an informational message on eight of his trucks. The trucks promote messages to stop sex trafficking by saying “stand as ONE” and provide a help hotline for the victims. Quickel believes that by seeing these messages at rest stops, entrance ramps, and exits on the highways, sex trafficking will be discouraged from stopping at the truck stops.

Another way that Quickel is spreading his message is with Vigilante Trucker, a smartphone app to allows truck drivers to spread the word and awareness. With the app, users can report sex trafficking incidents by taking a picture of an event they witnessed and then sending it to a national database that can rescue the victims and convict the pimps.

Quickel believes that the best way to prevent sex trafficking is to change the mindsets of men and helping them realize what is really happening.

Kristine Alarcon is a senior at the University of San Francisco working towards a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Couch, Robbie. “Truck Drivers Can Help Fight Sex Trafficking. Here’s How.” The Huffington Post. Retrieved on May 9, 2015.

Photo Credit: (Vigilante Truckers)

Tea Plantation Girls Kidnapped Into Slavery

By: Sara Kim


Tea plantation owners of India make billions of pounds annually, due to the booming business in the industry. Ironically however, while the owners are making fortunes, the workers earn less than the official minimum wage for their labor. This is because the owners have used the size of the industry as an excuse for asking the state to give them leeway in the wage they pay their workers, creating an environment not much different than slavery.

In the cities of India, such as Delhi, there is a large demand for domestic workers in the growing middle class. These two different circumstances of the plantations and cities nurture the perfect condition for human trafficking, as girls from poor families in the plantations supply the demand for labor in cities.  Hence, many illegal agencies have been created, which kidnap girls from poor plantations through lies and trickeries and sell them to richer families in the cities.

Somila, a 16 year-old girl from the Nahorani tea plantation in Assam, was one of these girls who were kidnapped. The kidnappers lied to her about the life that they could provide her in the city, promising her an office job. Although Somila was an intelligent girl, she was naively persuaded by the trafficker and had thus gone missing from her neighborhood. It was only three years later that Somila returned home, through the help of BBA (Bachpan Bachao Andolan), or Save the Childhood Movement. After the rescue, Somila described the physical, emotional, and sexual abuses she endured in her experience being enslaved under the title of a “housemaid.”

BBA is a movement started by Kailash Satyarthi 34 years ago. The movement aims to rescue girls like Somila, who were unlawfully taken away from their families to be sold into the city. However, the work is more dangerous than what the goal entails, as the traffickers work like “mafias,” resorting to violence toward whatever and whoever may threaten their business. Hence, two of the members of BBA have been killed, and many others have experienced severe beatings. Despite such harsh conditions, the movement has so far managed to rescue around 2,600 children, although it is believed that Delhi itself has more than 100,000 young people in domestic slavery.

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

Reference: Chamberlain, Gethin. “The tea pickers sold into slavery.”  The Guardian. March 1, 2014. URL: Date accessed 5/10/15.

Photo Credit: Chamberlain, Gethin. The Guardian


Rescued From Boko Haram, How Can They Reclaim Their Lives?

Boko Haram

By Luis Gay

More than 200 women and children were “freed from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria on [May 2, 2015].” Of those, many were children and a large amount of women were pregnant. Health screenings and psychological counseling for the rescued women were provided by the Chief of the United Nations Population Fund. Health professionals are pondering whether former captive women and children can reintegrate back into society or “reclaim [their] life.” Dr. Theresa Betancourt, director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, studies this very question of how children affected by hardship reintegrate back into society. She led a 13-year study with 529 former child soldiers held captive in Sierra Leone and is applying her findings to discover the “problems the Nigerian girls might face and the support they will need.” as discussed in an interview with NPR (National Public Radio). She believes that Nigeria is tending to the needs of the girls both on the physical and mental side. In other words, “they’re attending to pregnancy care but also immediate psychosocial care.” Although, she does have concern that many of the pregnancies are “in the context of abuse and rape and are unwanted.” Thus, one has to worry about maternal depression which, in turn, prevents a mother’s ability to fully nurture the child. Mentorship and support on “taking on the role of [being a] mother” will be needed for these girls.”

When NPR asked Bentancourt on the how long emotional scars last on trauma victims, she responded that factors include “how they were treated in captivity, exposure to traumatic events and many post-rescue factors.” Emotional scars are also greatly influenced by the social community they return to. In Sierra Leone for example, child soldiers are “taunted and teased or even beaten.” “Perceptions of sexual impurity” make it extremely difficult for the girls to feel welcomed back into their community. That is why social support is crucial to “reduce stigma” because if former child slaves are singled out, it will “greatly exacerbate negative outcomes.” As a result, Bentancourt emphasizes that community sensitization campaigns, like those in Sierra Leone, are important. These are “town hall-style meetings,” consisting of parents, community elders, and other people, that prepare the community for “the return home of former child soldiers.” Dialogues are presented to assist “the immediate family of those returning as well as their social group to accept the captives back home” and warn them about the “danger of ostracizing.”

Bentancourt’s research has shown that there are girls that go on and “reclaim their lives” after going through horrific experiences. She told a story of a girl who had been unmercifully beaten for 2 ½ years, which resulted in a deformity on her leg in addition to have a baby a young age. Having witnessed various “killings and atrocities”, she had trouble getting along with peers.” Although with a dedicated mother and flexible teacher, she was able to establish connections within her school and the community. Eventually, with family support, she cared for her child on her own and “became a dedicated student.”

Bentancourt explained that Sierra Leone has opportunities to help girls such as the one mentioned earlier by “continuing in their education, having adequate social support and lower levels of community stigma.” When NPR asked if Nigeria had the same support, Bentancourt expressed that they do have “a health system that is higher functioning than many other areas where children have been involved with armed groups” along with mental health experts. It is through these resources within the state, family, and community members that create hope for trauma victims coming back to their community. Most importantly, it is the connections that trauma victims have with each other that heal emotional wounds inflicted by enslavement.

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.


Brink, Susan. 2015May8. “Rescued From Boko Haram, How Can They Reclaim Their Lives?”. NPR. [Accessed 9 May 2015]

Image Credit:

This image can be found in an article entitled “Boko Haram: Nigerian army ‘frees another 234 women and children’” at [Accessed 9 May 2015]

Cambodian Women “Trapped” Into the Sex and Garment Industries

By: Charmaine Santos


Many people assume that women in the sex industry are “forced,” but this might not be entirely true according to an interview Voice of America conducted with journalist, writer, and artist Anne Elizabeth Moore. Women in Cambodia have very few employment opportunities except in the industries of garment manufacturing and sex work.

Moore reveals during the interview that women often resort to the garment or sex industry because the Cambodian government is not necessarily looking to expand other employment industries for women, therefore presenting these industries as a place of forced labor. Here in the United States we often think forced labor for women to be sex trafficking, however, many women in Cambodia do not claim that they were trafficked but claim that they just simply work for the industry. Therefore the thought of everyone working in the sex industry is forced, is not accurate. Unfortunately, women in both industries are extremely underpaid.

When the question of what the United States can do to break the cycle of forced labor and make sure that brands are aware of forced labor in the garment factories, Moore replied that though there is low pay in both industries, the problem is not necessarily with the clothing brands. Employed Cambodian women get low pay for any position they can hold since the Cambodian government is hesitant to open up new employment opportunities for women. So it is not so much a consumer issue, though creating brand awareness is helpful. The issue is also based on policy, and until countries like Cambodia provide a wider range of options for women’s employment, women’s labor in third world countries will continue to be an issue. It is therefore the United States’ job to support poverty elimination policy worldwide.

Moore finishes the interview by saying that questions regarding poverty are more pressing than questions regarding morality. She explains that to implement an effective poverty-elimination strategy, we should focus on getting people out of the system of economic oppression. Moore has also discovered through interviewing women in the sex industry that some women actually enjoy working in the industry, but even though it is not the best opportunity, it is the only paying one. Employment opportunities must expand worldwide before we give women the option to escape the industry they were “trapped” into in the first place.

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.


Soksreinith, Ten. (2015, April 21). “Author Looks at Forced Labor in Cambodia’s Sex and Garment Industries.” Voice of America. Retrieved May 5, 2015 from

Photo Credit:



Former Sex Slave Helps Trafficking Victims Through Fashion

By: Luis Gay


India native Anna Malika, 29, was adopted by an American family in which she “experienced sexual abuse as a child that led to self-harm, eating disorders and alcohol abuse later in life.” During her teen years, Malika was also in a “deceptive relationship with an older man” who sold pornographic pictures of her and other girls. Eventually escaping these traumatic experiences, Malika “entered a rehabilitation program through Mercy Ministries,” which helped girls like her seek freedom from “controlling issues.” Through this program, she made a complete turn with her life, pursuing a college degree in sociology and producing her own clothing line. Through a partnership with the clothing brand Elegantees—“a boutique brand that provides victims of sex trafficking independence with a self-sustaining income through sewing”—and the Nepali Rescue Project, Malika is designing clothing while helping Nepalese women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked. They are compensated fair wage and the profits from her clothing collection, “Freedom is the New Beautiful,” go to services that aid trafficking survivors. Malika describes her clothes as “modest yet fashionable.” Her vision is that “women do not need to expose themselves to be…feminine.” Through the use of “flowing fabrics” and “vibrant colors,” Anna Malika hopes to advocate to sex trafficking survivors that “[they] are…[not] defined by…[their] past wounds.”


Rodriguez, Vanessa Garcia. 2015Mar15. Former sex slave helps trafficking victims through fashion. Christian Examiner. [Accessed 28 April 2015]

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

Photo Credit: This is an original sketch drawn by Anna Malika found at