University alum Elizabeth Campbell, a staff attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic, presented a speech on human trafficking Friday to educate the community on the effects of the all-too-prevalent crime.
The Human Trafficking Clinic, started in 2009, is the only legal clinic solely dedicated to human trafficking in the United States. It provides comprehensive legal representation to victims of labor and sex trafficking.
In her speech, Campbell dispelled myths about human trafficking. For instance, contrary to common knowledge, human trafficking doesn't need to involve movement, coercion can be either physical or psychological and labor trafficking is much more common than sex trafficking.
Through force, fraud and especially coercion, individuals are exploited for commercial benefit, but not necessarily money, Campbell said.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is a crime entirely based on exploitation,” Campbell said. “U.S. citizens can be, and in fact are, victims of trafficking here in the United States.”
Campbell expressed concern that Congress has not reauthorized the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which protects undocumented immigrants who may be trafficking victims.
The reality that human trafficking is closer to home than expected was highlighted by LSA junior Khushi Desai. She explained that several cases have been discovered in the Ann Arbor area.
“A former U of M janitor is currently in jail for human trafficking and forced labor charges because he tried to pass off four immigrants as his own children,” she continued. “He forced them to do housework and physically abused them, even threatened them if they tried to leave.”
The Global Scholars Program, a living learning community in North Quad, chose a human trafficking theme for the program’s monthly lectures this semester. After drug dealing, human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world and the fastest growing.
Jennifer Yim, the founder and director of GSP, said the community’s goal is to help students understand international issues better.
“(GSP) brings together international and U.S. students to engage in social justice education on a global level,” Yim said.
LSA junior Nora Dagher said she’s glad GSP exists so that students can have an open dialogue about human trafficking.
“Human rights is definitely something that I’m really passionate about,” said Dagher. “We want to impact the community in any way we can and talk about issues that people don’t really talk about in mainstream media.”