Rice Seminar presents lecture by author of ‘Step Over Rio,’ Martha Everhart Braniff, Dec. 6

Martha Everhart Braniff, child advocate, poet and author of “Step Over Rio,” will discuss her book and child trafficking issues as part of the inaugural 2012-13 Rice Seminar, “Human Trafficking Past and Present: Crossing Disciplines, Crossing Borders,” at Rice University Dec. 6.

The 2012-13 Rice Seminar is studying human trafficking and historical slavery from several disciplinary perspectives.

Over the past 30 years, Braniff has worked with victimized children and advocated for their rights through the courts. She has also dealt with children of gang members and helped illegal kids caught in the treacherous web of child trafficking. “Step Over Rio” is Braniff’s fictional exploration of very real and timely issues affecting hundreds of thousands of youths every year.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in Fondren Library’s Kyle Morrow Room. For more information about the event, contact laurenk@rice.edu.

Co-directed by history professors James Sidbury and Kerry Ward, the 2012-13 Rice Seminar has convened a distinguished group of four faculty fellows from outside of Rice, one Rice faculty member, one Rice postdoctoral fellow and two Rice graduate students to study human trafficking and historical slavery from several disciplinary perspectives, from public health to women’s studies to political science and more. The seminar will use Houston as one of its case studies to examine the public and private philanthropic leaders working to combat new forms of slave trade and labor exploitation. The most tangible product of the seminar will be scholarly publications by the participants, including a book.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as “a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through the use of force, coercion or other means for the purpose of exploiting them.” Human trafficking has been identified as the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, second only to drug trafficking as the world’s most profitable industry. According to the latest United Nations estimates, nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked in 137 countries.

This fall and throughout the remainder of the inaugural year, the Rice Seminar will bring local and international experts on human trafficking to campus to share their insights and perspectives with the Houston community.

The Rice Seminar program is an initiative of the dean of Humanities, funded by the School of Humanities and the Humanities Research Center, and is designed to promote humanistic research.

For more information about Rice Seminars, the topics, participants and events, visit http://hrc.rice.edu/riceseminars and http://hrc.rice.edu/houconnect. More information about Free the Captives can be found at www.freethecaptiveshouston.com.

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