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Singer And Activist Buki Domingos Named A KPBS Community Hero For Raising Awareness About Human Trafficking

Buki Domingos, who speaks and performs locally to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, has been named a KPBS and National Conflict Resolution Center Community Hero.

“I realized that the only way to overcome human trafficking is to educate people and to organize around the issue because maybe people have the misconception that the people who are trafficked are poor or uneducated or just desperate girls wanting to come to America,” she said. “But as we have learned from researchers, human trafficking has many faces and it has nothing to do with your socioeconomic status.”

Domingos is a professional singer and nurse, who is fluent in five languages. Born in Nigeria, she came to the United States six years ago and unknowingly became enmeshed in a human trafficking scheme. She was forced to perform as a singer without pay, she said.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commericial sex. The topic is increasingly in the news. In July, the late Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy money manager, was charged with sex trafficking and faced up to 45 years in prison.

Locally, human trafficking is San Diego’s second largest underground economy after drug trafficking, with an estimated revenue of $810 million, according to a study by two professors at the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University.

Domingos, who has four children, said she managed to escape her situation five years ago. She first began speaking about the topic in 2016, when she was asked to participate in UCSD’s Global Empowerment Summit. Since then she has used her voice in song and speeches at other forums and rallies to raise awareness about human trafficking. She wrote many of the songs she performs, she said.

Domingos is also the board chair of Activist San Diego, a non-profit organization that promotes and facilitates networking among social justice organizations. The organization has a radio station, where Domingos co-hosts a show. Along with other topics, Domingos talks about human trafficking on the air. Her particular focus is black immigrant women.

“They don't necessarily have the same information,” she said. “They don't necessarily have the same resources and that's why the show is named Alafia: Voices of the African Diaspora.”

She arrived in San Diego County in 2014 and was referred to Casa Cornelia Law Center, a nonprofit law firm that provides legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations. It was through Casa Cornelia that Domingos became aware of the forms of human trafficking and she came to the realization she had been a victim, she said.

Now Domingos raises awareness about human trafficking whenever she can.

“Every time I speak in front of a microphone anywhere, I hope that the person who needs to hear it is listening,” she said. “I cannot emphasize enough that there is not one particular face of human trafficking.”

It can be anybody, she said.

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