Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative Established to Support Survivor Rights
John Jain, M.D., described his late sister Sunita as “a young woman who was well ahead of her time in her awareness of social justice.” During her life, she joined the ACLU, was an activist, graduated with a degree in women’s studies, and marched for people’s rights. Jain is certain she would have become an attorney working for human rights, specifically women and children. When he thought about the best way to honor her, he chose anti-trafficking, something he feels his sister would believe is an important and urgent issue today.
The Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative, established at LMU Loyola Law School (LLS), will advance anti-trafficking and survivor rights policy reforms and engage law students to have a broader impact. Jain’s gift will be used immediately to hire two policy positions at LLS, one focused on local and state policy reform and one focused on federal policy advocacy. The initiative, a collaboration of the Loyola Social Justice Clinic and LLS Anti-Racism Center, is led by three law faculty experts in their fields: Professor Kathleen Kim, associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of law; Professor Elizabeth Bluestein, executive director of Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic and associate clinical professor of law; and Stephanie Richard, a national expert on human trafficking who has recently joined the Law School as a visiting professor and director of the Rights In Systems Enforced (RISE) clinic, which represents survivors of trafficking and other crimes.
“When I looked at Loyola Law School and how this team has organized themselves, and what they’ve already accomplished, I noticed what was missing is funding, and the ability to allocate and use funds to do even greater things,” said Jain. “Kathleen, Elizabeth, and Stephanie have the academic, experience and passion to be leaders in this space.”
An expert on immigrants’ rights and human trafficking, Kim explains that it’s not just about doing the work, it’s also about producing evidence and data that can inform and change policy. At the same time, it’s about engaging law students in academic research so when they are in the field as lawyers, they understand the intersectional complexity of human trafficking and can make meaningful changes in policy.
“Dr. Jain inspires our continuous commitment to the empowerment and self-determination for human trafficking survivors,” said Kim. “Our faculty, staff, and students are best positioned to rectify laws and legal practices that have subordinated trafficking survivors. Dr. Jain’s gift profoundly expands our systemic impact to truly advance the rights of trafficked persons.”
Bluestein underscores that it’s important to enact policy changes that are a result of the work that’s being done at the clinic.
“We’re trying to change the narrative within our legal system to have government systems interact with people as humans and not the thing that happened to them,” said Bluestein. “To categorize people as either a ‘criminal’ or a ‘victim’ doesn’t look at the whole person. We teach our students how to engage with the client as a whole individual, and to look at where we can make changes to the system. We’re not theorizing what would be good for people, it’s coming out of what our clients are experiencing.”
For Jain, the Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative is a tribute to his sister and the legacy of the person she would have been. He’s also quick to point out his gift is about the critical work being done to support victims and survivors who often have no voice, no way to contact their family, and typically find themselves desolate and isolated.
“This is a call for others to learn about trafficking, to educate people about its presence. Nine out of 10 people don’t realize this is happening under their nose,” he said. “And importantly, it’s a call for people to give time, money, and resources to help.”