PILI Alum Lydia Ness has received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work at Equip for Equality. She will advocate for victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking, and focus on preventing abuse and neglect among people with disabilities. Last fall, Lydia did a PILI Internship at Equip for Equality.
Lydia first learned about the issues surrounding sex trafficking as an undergraduate journalism student. “I interviewed women in the commercial sex industry in the Dominican Republic, many of whom ended up there with false promises of employment, and now have no way out because of extreme poverty,” explained Lydia.
She decided to go to law school to work against sexual exploitation of vulnerable populations. As a student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, she interned at Equip for Equality, where she got the idea for her project. “I learned people with disabilities are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking than people without disabilities, and this is the population I want to serve,” Lydia said.
As a fellow, Lydia will investigate reports from the Illinois Department of Human Services Office of the Inspector General about sexual abuse at facilities for people with disabilities and identify situations where people with disabilities are not safe. She will also develop written materials to educate those with disabilities about their rights and about how Equip for Equality can advocate for them in situations involving abuse, neglect or civil rights violations.
The Equal Justice Works Fellowship is a two-year program that funds public interest attorneys. These fellows have a lasting impact well beyond their fellowship, and more than 80% of fellows continue doing public interest work after their fellowship ends. Learn more at www.equaljusticeworks.org.
Congratulations to Lydia and all of the 2016 Equal Justice Work Fellows, including Andrew Hemmer, another PILI Alum! We look forward to hearing about the great work you accomplish.
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