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Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic part of team developing model to prevent human trafficking

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

LAWRENCE — The success of Oscar-winning film “12 Years a Slave” has brought wide attention to the pre-Civil War memoir of Solomon Northup, a freeborn man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery for 12 years in Louisiana.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, but sadly pieces of Northup’s story still ring true today as human trafficking remains operating in a shadow of everyday life. A team of University of Kansas researchers is studying a myriad of issues surrounding trafficking and developing a prevention model with the goal it could one day apply both nationally and internationally.

“We’re working on an empirical model for assessing vulnerabilities within populations that can eventually lead to exploitation,” said Hannah Britton, director of ASHTI, the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative. “We’re looking at risk and protective factors and communities that can help people avoid exploitation.”

ASHTI in March launched its website, which will include preliminary research findings, said Britton, who is an associate professor of political science and women, gender and sexuality studies as well as director of the Center for International Political Analysis at KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research, which houses ASHTI.

The launch of the website comes one year after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and KU hosted the Kansas Conference on Slavery and Human Trafficking on campus.

Britton said development of the preventive model is based on research the team is still gathering in the Kansas City metropolitan area through working with a wide variety of groups, including service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, churches, organizations that work on immigration rights or migrant labor, and English-language learning classes.

Modern-day slavery and human trafficking manifests itself in various ways, including providing forced labor or sexual exploitation. Research estimates tens of thousands of people are living in the United States in some type of modern-day slavery.

So far, the ASHTI team’s research has identified several factors that can leave people vulnerable to human trafficking. People who have a limited knowledge of the English language are typically at risk because they often aren’t educated on the legal rights they have or because they have a more difficult time navigating the legal system. Poverty is also a significant factor, although other risk factors affect people from middle- or upper-class families as well.

Instability in one’s family structure or home life can create a major risk for someone to become a victim of exploitation.

Britton said the group is also looking at protective factors that can help victims of human trafficking safely free themselves.

“Either they had a fairly good education, or they knew that’s a pathway out of exploitation,” she said. “Education is very helpful.”

Often labor rights groups and educational programs provide assistance or enough awareness for certain victims to realize they are being exploited for work or otherwise, Britton said.

The research team considers a preventive model a key to combating human trafficking alongside prosecution. While there have been high-profile cases about trafficking rings, it’s still a lucrative business within the informal economy and an international issue.

For example, among the populations in the Kansas City research project, while most victims are from the United States, researchers have identified people from other countries, such as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Moldova, Ukraine, the Philippines and many former Soviet republics.

“I think we all know that demand pushes trafficking. It’s interesting to me how much our participants in the study talked about that. If they could get rid of the demand, there would not be this recruitment and this cultivation of potential trafficked persons,” Britton said. “So dealing with the demand for sex trafficking, dealing with the demand for a poorly paid workforce, those types of things are driving this. And that’s really hard to address.”

In addition to research, ASHTI addresses teaching and advocacy. This includes supporting a Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at the KU School of Law, which is seeking to create the first anti-human trafficking legal clinic based on such a partnership. In December, the MLP Clinic was selected as a finalist in the first round of the Partnership for Freedom, a national competition seeking innovative ideas to better care for survivors of modern-day slavery.

Britton hopes the broad approach of KU’s involvement and momentum such as from the 2013 conference can help the ASHTI project spread its preventive model on an international level and put modern-day slavery and trafficking even more in the public eye.

“People can be trafficked in plain sight — literally in plain sight,” she said. “If you’re aware of it, you start to look for it.”

Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic to benefit from Proud to Be a Jayhawk tailgate

Thursday, September 05, 2013

LAWRENCE — The Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic for the School of Law and The Big Event will benefit from the 2013 Proud To Be A Jayhawk tailgating fundraiser. The KU football season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Jayhawks take on the University of South Dakota at Memorial Stadium.

The law school launched its Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) Clinic — the first in Kansas — in January 2008. MLP is a health care delivery model that integrates legal services into comprehensive patient care. Working with health care providers and under the supervision of licensed attorneys, law students provide free legal assistance to the low-income patients of the KU Medical Center, JayDoc Free Clinic and Health Care Access.

The Big Event, which began in 2010, connects University of Kansas students, faculty and staff with the Lawrence community by recruiting volunteers to work at hundreds of local job sites during one day of service.

More than $50,000 has been raised through the Proud To Be A Jayhawk tailgating fundraiser since the promotion began in 2001. Past beneficiaries include the BullDoc Free Clinic through the KU Medical Center, the Marching Jayhawks, Math and Science Center, Mi Familia Program, International House, Commission on the Status of Women, Global Awareness Program, Global Partners Program, Center for Community Outreach, Spirit Squad, Nichols League Student Leadership Fund, Studio 804, BiodieselInitiative, Center for Sustainability, Emerging Green Builders, the Jaydoc free medical clinics in Kansas City and Wichita, the KU Audio-Reader sensory garden for the visually impaired and KU's Disability Resources office.

Tailgating and shuttle bus information:
Fans 21 and older may tailgate with alcohol in designated areas during a three-hour pregame period and during halftime. Tailgating with alcohol is not permitted during game time. On Sept. 7, tailgating begins at 3 p.m. Free shuttle buses will begin running two hours before game time from campus parking lots to the east side of Memorial Stadium.

Designated tailgating lots are 1, 2, 3, 33, 34, 36, 39, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 65, 72, 90, 91, 94, 96 and 130. Tailgating is permitted in the Mississippi Street parking garage, but no cooking is allowed. A map can be found in the 2013 Kansas Football Guide.

Parking and Transit will sell a limited number of parking spaces in lot 72, between the Allen Fieldhouse parking garage and the Burge Union, and in lot 90, between the fieldhouse and the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center. Both are approved tailgating lots and are served by a free shuttle for travel to and from Memorial Stadium. Parking will cost $20.

For people with disabilities, there are 12 parking stalls in lot 59 on the stadium's east side and 26 stalls in lot 94 on the west side. Each costs $20.

Alcohol consumption is not permitted on campus or city streets.

In addition to providing portable toilets in all designated tailgating areas, Kansas Athletics will provide burn buckets for fans to safely dispose of hot coals.

In an effort to comply with all Homeland Security recommendations and provide the safest atmosphere for coaches, players and fans, backpacks and other large bags are not allowed in Memorial Stadium.

Tailgating rules:
Alcohol may be consumed only during a three-hour period before kickoff and during halftime in designated tailgating areas.

Underage drinking, disorderly conduct or other unlawful conduct will not be tolerated.

No kegs or other alcohol containers with a capacity greater than 1 gallon may be brought into a tailgating area. Fans are strongly encouraged not to use or bring glass containers.

Alcohol may not be brought into Memorial Stadium.

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