Heroes in the fight against human trafficking

During the release of the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Department of State recognized eight people for their tireless efforts to combat human trafficking.

These heroes come from across the globe and range from law enforcement officials to labor union activists, from journalists to religious workers.

They all have devoted themselves to ending the scourge of modern slavery. Here are the stories of two of them.

“I became strong”

After being forced to work as a sex slave for nearly 20 years, Alika Kinan of Argentina decided to fight back. She successfully pursued justice against her traffickers, and she now works to help other victims by assisting them with essential services like medical treatment, housing, education and job training.

Until 2012, Kinan was a victim of trafficking, just as her mother and grandmother had been. Like many others, she said, she did not consider herself a victim. That changed one day, when she was in court for a prostitution charge. An Argentine judge convinced her that she was a trafficking victim and needed to change her life.

“Once I did think of myself as a victim, then I began to seek help,” Kinan said. “I started knocking on doors of foundations and NGOs, the national, the state and the municipal governments.”

Group of people holding protest signs (© Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty)
Activists in Argentina hold posters with names of missing women at a protest against human trafficking. (© Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty)

After discovering these organizations had no services in place to help people like her, “I became strong and I thought, ‘What I’ll do now is fight to get these services for all these women.’”

Kinan has also worked with officials in Argentina’s judicial system to prosecute human trafficking. In November 2016, after assisting with the criminal convictions of her traffickers, Kinan became the first person in her nation’s history to win an award for damages as a victim in a civil sex-trafficking case.

A simple choice

As a child, Boom Mosby was surrounded by abuse. “I wasn’t able to help anybody, not even myself,” she said, “and I held that in my heart.” Once she became an adult with her own company, Mosby felt her faith was calling her to help in the way she couldn’t before.

She founded the HUG Project — HUG is both an acronym for hope, understanding and grace as well as a northern Thai word meaning “love.”

She follows a victim-centered approach — “The client is our boss, even though they’re young, as young as 3 years old,” Mosby says. Her project opened the first child-advocacy center in Southeast Asia, which supported more than 81 investigations and the arrest of 20 traffickers. With the Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, she is working to develop standard procedures for investigating and prosecuting cybercrimes against children.

“In the end, when facing the evil of human trafficking, we are all confronted with a choice: do nothing or do something,” Mosby said.