Video by Emily Walker
STOP Faculty Advisor
Dr. Janja Lalich is a Sociology professor at California State University, Chico. Her expertise is focused in cultic behavior. Lalich's decision to specialize in the study of cultic groups was prompted by her 11-year experience as a member of a radical political cult, the Democratic Workers Party.
Her past experiences in social movement groups lead her to teach Social Movements, offered in the sociology department at Chico State. Students of Lalich’s Social Movements class formed STOP in Spring of 2008.
STOP Co-faculty Advisor
Kate Transchel is a professor in the history department at California State University, Chico. In 1998, Transchel began researching sex trafficking after becoming increasingly interested and aware of its massive devastation. Being a historian, she came across it while doing research and continued to pursue learning about it.
After spending the next few years doing research, she decided to become fluent in Russian, in order to speak directly to the women in Eastern Europe.
In 2005, she made her first trip to Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe, to interview the women that had been rescued from the brothels.
“What was needed was for someone to hear their stories,” Transchel said. “And it broke my heart.”
While interviewing these women, Transchel heard traumatizing stories. She discovered a young girl who had been trafficked. The girl, along with the other girls in the brothel, all had their teeth bashed out with a hammer by their traffickers.
They did this because it made the women “better for oral sex,” Transchel said.
There was one girl, she interviewed, who actually escaped from the brothels. Something that is nearly impossible to do in the first place.
After escaping, the girl ran to the police station where a policeman took her back the brothel. As his reward, he was allowed to rape her “free of charge” for an entire week.
The majority of police and government officials, in Eastern Europe, are not only helping the traffickers to get away with their crimes, but they are also clients. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of the police deny that sex trafficking even exists.
In Spring 2012, Alyssa Higgs will be a senior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Child Development. She first got involved with STOP through Dr. Lalich's Social Movements class. She was required to do activism hours with a social movement and chose STOP. Until this semester coming her involvement with STOP has been through fundraising and class presentations. “I love how big of a part students play in STOP, it really helps you see how much of an impact you can really make!”
This semester she gets to take the next step as president of STOP and is very excited. Last semester they put on the first annual Human Trafficking Awareness Week, which offered panels discussions and film showings, and this semester they are going to be busily planning the second installment as well as many other eye opening events.
“Being a part of STOP is a great way to make a change in not only the world but in or own community! I encourage anyone and everyone to come and join us.”