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Young San Diego Filmmaker Attempts To Tell The ‘Truth’ About Sex Trafficking

Evening Edition

Aired 3/13/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Alex Magik Rice is an 18-year-old filmmaker who works with the Media Arts Center San Diego. Her documentary, Truth, debuts this weekend at the San Diego Latino Film Festival

Jaqueline Penhos, CEO, The Art of Being You, a non-profit organization that works with survivors of human trafficking and prostitution

Alma Tucker, Founder of the International Network of Hearts and the Casa del Jardin in Tijuana.

There are academics and law enforcement officials at work studying the statistics of human trafficking and prostitution in San Diego.

Just on Wednesday's KPBS Midday Edition, we heard about a new Urban Institute report that focused on San Diego’s gang-related prostitution rings and cross-border trafficking.

But a more personal investigation into the world of young women in San Diego's sex trade is the subject of a new short documentary. The film is called "TRUTH" and it was made by 18-year-old Alex "Magik" Rice.

Magik, who produced the film with the Media Arts Center San Diego, said it was important for her to make in part because she's thinking about future generations.

"We’re going up against a lot. This issue stems from so many different issues in society revolving around child neglection (sic), just so many different issues," Rice said. "It’s important because this is just the well being of our children for the future."

She said, some of the young women she spoke to were willing to talk because they understood the value of helping others by sharing their story.

"If there was somebody that was eager to tell their story for this documentary, it would be because they wanted to bring awareness to help clarify things," Rice said "Just to take part in the healing process of sharing that with people."

In the documentary an unidentified survivor of San Diego’s sex trade explained how she came to the decision to sell her body.

"I grew up in foster care from age 2 to 18. I had a rough life as far as being singled out in almost every family I was placed in," the woman said. "How I got involved in working is when I needed extra money to provide for my child and maintain my everyday bills.

"Everything was piling up so I took it upon myself to find a way to get a steady income."

Jacqueline Penhos works with survivors of sex trafficking through her nonprofit organization, The Art of Being You. She said working in the sex trade is not a choice.

"The misconception with human trafficking, or as I like to call it, with modern day slavery is, it’s not a choice, it’s not prostitution," she said. "It is an illegal act that’s forced on one person to another, so everyone that is forced — male and female — is a victim."

Penhos said many of the survivors she works with are from San Diego.

"Many people again think it’s not happening in our backyard, not in this country, not here," she said. "They’re not immigrants or refugees — although some of them are — they are young women from San Diego, 12 and up."

Alma Tucker established the first safe house in Tijuana for young women who have been victims of sex trafficking.

She said many of the girls she has helped come from poor, broken homes, and in some cases they've been exploited by their own families for profit.

"They’re coming with a lot of issues, health issues, emotions, they need their therapies," Tucker said. "It takes time to go through the process of healing because some of them are being victimized for years."

The documentary, "TRUTH," premieres Saturday, March 15 at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

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