This week, Alika Kinan was honored at the State Department for her work fighting sex trafficking; just five years earlier she was being held prisoner and abused in an Argentinian brothel. NPR reports Kinan, herself a victim of sex trafficking, was held captive in the brothel for nearly two decades starting when she was 18. Kinan was expected to stay in bed until 4pm so she could have the energy to have sex with 15 to 30 men every night. Her travel documents were taken away, and she was forbidden to make friends outside the brothel. "You use alcohol, you use drugs, or anything that will help you disassociate from the situation you are in," Kinan says.
Kinan was rescued in 2012. Two years later, she started a volunteer organization to help trafficked women get medical care, job training, and housing. She also became the first trafficked woman in Argentina to successfully sue her pimp. "Because of my experience, I have the will and the power to go after them," she says of traffickers. In addition to helping the victims of trafficking, Kinan is raising her six children, who she says think she is "some kind of superwoman." "I do so many things," Kinan says. "And on top of everything, I bake pizza for them." The State Department honored Kinan and seven other activists for their work on the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report. The Bangkok Post lists the other activists as Boom Mosby of Thailand, Leonardo Sakamoto of Brazil, Vanaja Jasphine of Cameroon, Viktoria Sebhelyi of Hungary, Amina Oufroukhi of Morocco, Mahesh Bhagwat of India, and Allison Lee of Taiwan. (Read more sex trafficking stories.)