Law Students Fight Sex Trafficking

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Quinnipiac University School of Law is a small, middle-tier school, unremarkable on the national landscape except perhaps for its variety of clinical programs -- and its outreach against sex trafficking.

According to the Hartford Courant, Quinnipiac law students have trained nearly 1,000 hospitality industry workers how to recognize and report signs of sex trafficking. The program has given students a front-seat at the table fighting the crime in Connecticut.

"There's a lot that's been done but there's still a lot more that needs to be done," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal told them at a roundtable.

Real-World Education

Taylor Matook, a second-year law student, trains hotel workers to pay attention to signs. It could be an older man checking in with a teenager girl; different people going in and out of the same room all day; trashed cellphones or empty condom boxes.

"We stress that if you report that one sign, then later another employee could see something else and report that sign as well, and now we have a narrative," Matook said.

The students are learning the law of the streets; it is hardly the stuff of ivory- tower academia. But it is making a difference in the real world.

In America, unfortunately, people often don't even notice the problem.

Victims Are Silenced

The International Labor Organization estimated in 2012 that there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims worldwide. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center says there are 40,466 victims in the United States.

Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, says it is hard to know the real numbers because many cases aren't reported. The victims are afraid to report for fear or reprisal or prosecution.

"The problem with human trafficking is that of course the victims are silenced," Villa told the Atlantic. "We don't have good data about it. You don't know how many slaves there are around the world."

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