University of Arizona, University of San Diego, Duke University and Harvard Law School’s Systemic Justice Project team up to map the needs of human trafficking survivors and explore innovative solutions.

Four universities announced today that they will collaborate in the 2019–20 school year using design thinking methodologies to explore new ways to meet the needs of human trafficking survivors.

Students and faculty from the law schools at the University of Arizona, University of San Diego, Duke University and Harvard University are partnering to explore new legal solutions, conduct in-depth research and develop community resources and possible policy changes to support human trafficking survivors.

Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit by means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. The second largest criminal industry in the world, human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states in the U.S. Victims of human trafficking include foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, adults and minors, and all genders and identities. This collaboration will engage students from multiple disciplines across the country in understanding the needs of the human trafficking survivors in their communities and applying innovative problem-solving skills to meeting those needs.

The programs and initiatives participating in this project are located in states with high rates of human trafficking. According to statistics provided by the National Trafficking Hotline, in 2017 North Carolina was sixth in the nation for reported cases, Arizona was 10th, and Massachusetts was in the top half. Research conducted in San Diego in 2016 estimated the number of commercially sexually exploited persons in San Diego County ranges from 3,417–8,108 per year, and that law enforcement only arrests 15–20% of the persons committing trafficking offenses. […]