The Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC) is a multi-faceted educational organization aimed at addressing the dearth of professional research in the field of human trafficking. Each HTC Associate (graduate level University of Denver students) works on a 2-4 year research project of their own design in tandem with their participation in the HTC Practicum course. The HTC provides trainings on annotated research, methodology, report writing, methodology and legal conceptualizations of human trafficking. HTC Associate projects provide in-depth, country specific and global research on topics pertinent to priority countries and high-risk regions with aims improve anti-trafficking policy and programs. Incoming Associates are encouraged to conduct their research on priority issues within the field such as global trends, the connection between institutional economic, religious and political forces and incidences of human trafficking, and critiques of current methodology and terminology used in research. Due to the increased international focus on sex trafficking and child exploitation, much associate research is focused on these priority areas. Current Associate projects involved an examination child trafficking in Russia, a critique of Haiti’s restavik system, an analysis of vulnerability reduction techniques to human trafficking used by women who have been displaced by the armed conflict in Colombia, and an examination of the complexities of male demand for prostitution and how it directly affects sex trafficking. Associates work in coordination with partnering NGOs, international organizations and government agencies on topics that HTC partners identify as priorities. Completed research projects will be published in the Human Trafficking Clinic Online Journal- the first scholarly online-journal to focus on human trafficking. Additionally, Research projects will be presented at biennial conferences sponsored by the HTC, as well as sent to all relevant policy makers and organizational leaders in the field. Partner projects will be co-published and used by HTC partner organizations.
As part of the Practicum, Associates and staff will engage in an on-going Taxonomy Project which aims to identify and define key terms-of-art in human trafficking with the purpose of establishing concise, universally-agreed-upon definitions which will rationalize scholarly research and policy decisions in the field. Once a definition of a key term is agreed upon, findings will be published on the HTC website for critique, debate, and the continual refinement of terms by leading human trafficking advocates, thought leaders, NGOs, international organizations, and scholars. The HTC will create and maintain an online forum and wiki-page which will allow these parties to dissect, critique, and debate the terms-of-art, ensuring their accuracy and universal acceptance. Currently, there is no such forum where members of the anti- human trafficking community can exchange thoughts and ideas. As a result, members use incomparable and contradictory data in their advocacy campaigns, exacerbating the already low level of inter-organizational communication resulting in ineffective programs and policy. The purpose of this project is to provide a forum in which leading professionals in the field can debate the use of key terms with the end result of establishing a series of concise, universally-agreed-upon terms to be used in all scholarly research and policy decisions. The idea for the project arose through multiple conversations with leading organizations and scholars in the field of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Despite the apparent need for such projects, the HTC remains the only organization committed to undertaking the task of establishing uniformity of terms-of-art in the field. This is a unique and innovative project that will add a sense of accountability and cooperation within this fast-growing field. Presenting a united front to combat this egregious human rights violation, which affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, is imperative to changing the current human trafficking paradigm. It is not enough that there is so much expressed interest in ending this practice, efforts must be coordinated and results must be drastic. The HTC Taxonomy project will help to achieve this.
In addition to running the Practicum and overseeing the Taxonomy and research projects, the HTC staff works to create a series of educational outreach and advocacy events that raise awareness about human trafficking. These events give HTC Associates opportunities to present their research and lead educational exercises and discussions about human trafficking. These events cater to the greater Denver/Boulder community, with a focus on reaching college, high-school and middle-school youth. HTC staff will create a series of short, informational films on human trafficking and modern-day slavery to be used in educational outreach and advocacy events throughout the greater Denver/Boulder area. The HTC will combine the created short films with clips from licensed human trafficking films such as “Lilja 4-Ever” and “Very Young Girls” into multi-media DVDs, which will be distributed at outreach events. In addition, the HTC will continue to implement its viral marketing campaigns, such as the “People are not Products” and “Hello My Name is” campaigns illustrated in the attached media. As previously mentioned, the HTC is also planning to launch the first scholarly online-journal to focus on human trafficking and modern-day slavery in late 2010. The journal will include Associate research projects as well as article and paper submissions from international thought leaders, scholars, and human trafficking organizations.