In early April, the International Law Society, in collaboration with the Minnesota Justice Foundation, Native American Law Students Association, and Women’s Law Student Association, hosted “Global Challenge, Local Focus: A Panel Discussion on Human Trafficking in Minnesota.” The event was open to current students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community.
A panel discussion was moderated by William Mitchell College of Law Professor Sarah Deer, an expert in trafficking and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The panel consisted of a cross-section of Minnesota’s activist community, including representatives from the Advocates for Human Rights; the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center; Youthlink; Breaking Free Inc., an educational and advocacy group for exploited women; and the Minnesota Not for Sale Campaign, a national grassroots movement to combat trafficking and slavery through “smart activism.”
Goals of the event were to place human trafficking, perceived primarily as an international human rights issue, into a local context; to provide a forum for dialogue between students, faculty, and community members; and to increase the Minnesota legal community’s awareness of this largely unseen human rights issue. To those ends, panelists clarified the current state and federal laws related to trafficking, highlighting legislative efforts to increase protection for victims of trafficking. They described their organizations’ services and advocacy strategies and shared personal experiences as former victims. Additionally, they offered advice to law students on how to get involved.