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 http://www.myspace.com/freeshugashaft, 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: http://www.morethanpurpose.org/
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: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org.
– 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.