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Slavery in the United States did not end with abolition. Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, is the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of people for the purposes of a commercial sex act, involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. It currently exists in every state of the United States and across the world. It can be found in many industries: agriculture, spas and massage parlors, hotel work, and domestic service, as well as prostitution. In 2000, the federal government, responding to the inadequacy of the current laws and to the scale and gravity of the problem, enacted the first comprehensive human trafficking law: the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Act defines human trafficking and establishes penalties for human traffickers. Some states and localities have followed the lead of the federal government and have enacted their own laws, giving law enforcement more tools in their fight against human trafficking in the United States.
Human Trafficking laws are new and untested. With the goal of helping the law to move forward, the Human Trafficking Clinical Program has two distinct but complementary components: the Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC) and the Human Trafficking Law Project (HTLP).
The HTC is the first legal clinic solely dedicated to human trafficking in the United States. It offers students at the University of Michigan Law School the opportunity to gain practical skills in the legal fields related to helping victims of human trafficking. The students in the clinic also run community outreach and education initiatives and conduct research about the state of laws relating to human trafficking. Not only do the students gain valuable advocacy skills, they have been and will continue to be instrumental in protecting victims' rights, in shaping the policy conversation, and in drafting the language used in amendments to trafficking laws.
Professor Bridgette Carr discusses the HTC in this podcast.
The HTLP is in the process of creating, and will maintain, a database of all recent human trafficking lawsuits and prosecutions in the United States, as well as providing best practices guidance. The goal of the project is to provide information for advocates, lawmakers, law enforcement, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and media to use in combating human trafficking. For example, lawyers could use the information in the database to frame their cases and research what other tactics have been most successful in the past. If you have specific questions about any aspect of the HTLP, please contact the project via the Request Form.
Our website also includes information about how community members can educate themselves and engage in the fight against human trafficking.
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