For the second year in a row, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office awarded Case Western Reserve University School of Law new grant funding to support its effort to end human trafficking.
In 2015, the law school received $131,169. This year, the office announced an award of $819,848.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, involving forced labor and sexual exploitation. The Justice Department estimates that as many as 17,000 young women and children are victims of human trafficking each year, including many in the state of Ohio. Ohio ranks 5th in the nation for the highest prevalence of sex trafficking.
“We worked tirelessly last year to begin our new human trafficking program, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. We are grateful for the additional funding, which will allow us to continue to build our program and expand the number of clients we serve,” said Maureen Guirguis (Kenny), a professor of lawyering skills who launched the project in the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic.
In addition to Kenny, Melanie GiaMaria, a 2003 graduate, supervises law students as they provide legal services to victims of human trafficking. They help their clients with a wide range of issues including, expunging criminal convictions, witness advocacy, immigration status, and employment and housing issues.
The program also supports community awareness. The Human Trafficking Law Clinic hosted a full-day Human Trafficking Law Symposium at the law school on March 3, 2016, which was attended by over 150 people. Last summer, the law school partnered with Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) and several other non-profits to distribute informational flyers, missing children posters and bars of soap to area hotels. The soap included the National Human Trafficking hotline number. Hotels are often locations where human trafficking occurs.
The additional funding will allow the Clinic to represent more juvenile and adult sex-trafficking survivors. In addition, the Clinic will be pursuing new initiatives to increase education and awareness, including partnerships with the transportation industry, the prison system, and other high-risk sectors and industries.
The grant will enhance greatly the opportunities for students and faculty to engage in research, policy work and direct representation of victims of trafficking, said Judith Lipton, Associate Dean for Experiential Education.