I am a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. This year, I am doing field work for my dissertation on the implementation of Russia’s law criminalizing human trafficking, passed in 2003. Human trafficking, both for sexual and labor exploitation and both internal and across borders, has become a major problem in Russia and other former Soviet countries since the fall of the Soviet Union. Since the law was passed, Russia has started to take the problem of trafficking more seriously, but as with any new law, it takes time for everyone in the system to learn how to use it and how to work together. My dissertation will explore how this process has played out over the past 4 years, looking at both the successes and challenges that have faced and will continue to face Russia in the near future. I plan to talk to stakeholders in law enforcement, prosecution and the non-government sector to better understand how they are implementing the law “on the ground” and prosecuting human traffickers.
My interest in Russia was sparked while I was writing my senior thesis at Wesleyan University on the connection between sports and politics during the Cold War. Since then, I have been determined to learn the language and spend as much time here as possible. In 2001 right after college, I started my Russian language training by attended a 3-week intensive language program in St. Petersburg. During the 2003-4 academic year I worked in Moscow as an English teacher, capping my time here with a journey on the Trans-Siberian railroad. I also returned in the summer of 2005 for a two month internship with a Russian anti human trafficking organization. On my Fulbright year I will be based in Moscow but plan to spend a good deal of time traveling to the regions and learning more about the human trafficking situation throughout Russia.