Monthly Archives: October 2011

UC Berkeley hosts “Not For Sale” seminar on human trafficking

I attended a seminar hosted by UC Berkeley’s “Not For Sale” chapter Oct. 25 (see below for the event description), and found it very informative and, ultimately, disturbing.

I learned that the average age of trafficked people in the world is around 12-14, most are girls, most are sold for prostitution, and some are sold for forced labor.

A human slave can be sold many times. The brothels can make a profit of more than $67,000/year on each slave, who can be made to engage in 25-30 “transactions” per day. The recruiters are often women, sometimes even “friends” of the victims, but the pimps that control the slaves are often men.

This happens throughout the world, and a lot in the U.S., where mobile brothels (big vans) are sometimes used, parked for a few a few weeks and then moved to a new location to avoid the authorities.

It hits close to home. International Blvd. in Oakland usually has a lot of under-age prostitutes selling themselves as their pimps look from the shadows, said San Jose Police Lieutenant John Vanek.

One of the victims, Nikki Jo Junker of San Diego, told the panel she earned $6,000/day and her pimp, who calls himself “Shuga Shaft,” took it all. He’s on Myspace at, but is incarcerated now.

Junker met Shuga Shaft when she visited a strip club when she was 18. He was friendly at first, but soon beat her and forced her into prostitution.

Junker strongly criticized glorification of “the pimp lifestyle” in pop culture, and said that hip-hop artists Ice-T and Snoop Dogg are pimps in real life and attend a pimp convention held each year in Las Vegas. Since pimps use brutality to control and exploit their slaves, who are often very young, this was disturbing news.

Junker eventually escaped the pimp, and now runs an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking:

Junker added that although she was brutalized and bloodied by her captors, her spirit was never broken. This is not always the case with trafficked girls, said Professor Kate Transchel of Chico State University. Transchel had interviewed a pimp from Mexico who said it usually took a couple of weeks of raping and otherwise brutalizing his young victims until “their eyes would go blank and he knew they’d been ‘broken’ and wouldn’t try to escape.”

Here’s the site run by Not For Sale:

– Steve Taylor

Slavery in Your Backyard: Human Trafficking in the Bay Area

Panel Discussion | October 25 | 6-8 p.m. | Free Speech Movement Café (Moffitt Library)

Panelist/Discussants: Nikki Jo Junker; Minh Dang; Lieutenant John Vanek; Professor Kate Transchel

Sponsor: Cal Corps Public Service Center

UC Berkeley’s Not For Sale chapter is putting on a panel that focuses on the overall mission of David Batstone’s Bay Area campaign: to investigate and eradicated human trafficking. Modern slavery is a widely-known issue globally, but little is done to prevent it legislatively. We have four guest speakers coming to shed some light on modern slavery in the United States – an issue that has not been heavily publicized in mainstream media.

Our guest speakers:

1) Nikki Jo Junker, a trafficking survivor from San Diego. She is the founder of More Than Purpose, an organization aimed towards spreading the modern abolitionist movement.

2) Professor Kate Transchel from Chico State University. She is currently investigating the sex slave trade in Eastern Europe and has done extensive research on the subject.

3) Minh Dang, a UC Berkeley graduate, and current PhD candidate at the UCB School of Social Welfare. She is Not For Sale’s club adviser and a local survivor of slavery/sexual abuse. Her story has been documented by MSNBC and she is an active member of the anti-trafficking community.

4) Lieutenant John Vanek currently commands the San Jose Police Department’s Systems Development Unit. In addition, John teaches a workshop on human trafficking at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and instructs the Human Trafficking of Minors course developed by the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force and the California Emergency Management agency.

Support and protect Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

She has been fighting violence against Mexican women, in the family, by the police and military, facing death threats and severe reprisals from armed authorities. Una mujer valiente! No permitaremos que la asesinan como Digna Ochoa, la madre activista de Cuidad Juarez, y tantas otras que luchan por la libertad y en contra de la violence. We have to figure out a way to lend our support and ensure that her work receives global support. This may be her best protection. Ideas welcome!

Excerpts below from this article which explains the situation.

MEXICO: Women Reject Normalisation of Gender Violence

La valiente Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

Ninety percent of the non-governmental organisations in Mexico are founded and run by women, says journalist and women’s rights activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, even as crimes against women remain cloaked in impunity.

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, brave woman! “Nine out of 10 women in Mexico who suffer human rights violations do not report it to the authorities, and “those who (do) report them are generally met with suspicion, apathy and disrespect”, according to Human Rights Watch’s latest country report.
“The normalisation of gender violence is increasing incredibly,” Cacho said.

Even though some legal measures have been put in place to prevent and punish gender-based violence, the implementation has been very limited and impunity remains the norm for murder or other crimes against women, according to human rights groups.”

“Cacho said the military is involved in abuses such as human trafficking, and police occasionally attack women’s shelters, either because they have a personal connection to a woman in the shelter or because they want to protect the traffickers.

Ten years ago, she founded such a shelter for women and their children who are fleeing various kinds of gender violence, called the Women’s Assistance Centre (Centro Integral de Atención a la Mujer) in Cancún. It started mainly as a refuge for victims of domestic violence, but it soon became clear that most of the women had been involved in trafficking, especially forced prostitution. The centre now has high security, with a barbed wire fence and cameras everywhere to keep the women safe.

Cacho recounted how the shelter was attacked by police who came to retrieve the wife of a policeman, whom she had helped to flee an abusive situation. The police didn’t get inside, and the attack was caught on film, but when Cacho sought accountability and showed the tape to the district attorney, she said he told her “that there isn’t much we can do, (and) the best thing you can do is just to close down”.

Cacho chose to do neither. She has investigated gender violence and sex trafficking and published numerous stories and books on the subject. Her 2005 book “The Demons of Eden” exposed an international child pornography and sex trafficking ring in Cancún which involved senators and politicians.

She was ***thrown in jail and tortured*** for publishing that book. When she finally came out and started talking, the government tried to label her a terrorist, but without success. She traveled for six years to investigate the world of international sex trafficking of women, resulting in her latest book “The Slaves of Power” in 2010.

Together with non-governmental organisations and a grassroots activist network, Cacho started a prevention campaign called “No estoy en venta” – “I am not for sale” – against sex trafficking that includes a video to give young people tools they need to protect themselves. The video explains anti-trafficking laws, the tactics traffickers use to lure their victims, and other aspects of the issue. ”

via Max Dashu

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