|By Alexys Vasstrom
Nominated by Seble Dawit, Director and Assistant Professor of Peace Studies
From the Author: I began studying human trafficking four years ago. I was disturbed that children were being brought into the United States for sex. When in South America, the tsunami of 2004 struck and I was terrified for the children who went undocumented for undetermined amounts of time. Traffickers are ready and waiting when children are rendered helpless. The profit made from the life of a human being is unthinkable, and there are many waiting to reap benefits. Because I had no idea how to go to the east and help, but knew I had to begin action, I submitted a letter and a series of academic reports I had written on the subject of human trafficking to the mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom. San Francisco is a port of entry into the U.S. by many, including those who have business in the bodies of others. I appealed to him and asked for an internship so that I may raise awareness of the problem in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mayor Newsom called me personally and told me that trafficking was high on his radar and would gladly accept my enthusiastic desire to make a difference. This publication is the resulting analysis report of a summer spent interning in the Department on the Status of Women in the City and County of San Francisco. I would like to thank my supervisor Bernice Casey for her endless support and leadership, Executive Director Emily Murase, my human rights and peace studies advisor Professor Seble Dawit for her push and belief in my passion and my work, and Mayor Newsome for allotting me the opportunity to work in a government capacity and help me make a real difference. Thank you as well to my dad, Leif Vasstrom, without whom my papers and letters may have been lost in the load Mayor Newsom carries daily. Hopefully, one day, the buying and selling of bodies will finally be eradicated and all will receive the rights and protections they deserve.
From the Faculty Nominator: Alexys wrote this paper for a Peace Studies internship which she fulfilled in the San Francisco City mayor's office. She had done significant research for this paper over two semesters and in two different courses, one in philosophy and one in peace studies. The significance of her effort is evident in the paper - she was actually able to use her academic work to influence public policy on human trafficking in the United States.
Read: Report on the Status of Women
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