Child Abuse Sexual Assault

Full-Text Friday: Achieving a More Effective Health Response to Trafficking of Women & Girls

This week’s featured article initially appeared in November’s Articles of Note, but at the time it was not available free full-text. Not so now. Since the peer-reviewed literature has far less on this healthcare response to trafficking patients than, say, IPV or sexual assault patients, I will happily highlight what I can find. After the jump, all the details:

Citation: J Urban Health. 2013 Dec;90(6):1194-204. doi: 10.1007/s11524-013-9837-4. An international comparative public health analysis of sex trafficking of women and girls in eight cities: achieving a more effective health sector response. Macias Konstantopoulos W, Ahn R, Alpert EJ, Cafferty E, McGahan A, Williams TP, Castor JP, Wolferstan N, Purcell G, Burke TF.

Why this article: Studies suggest that half of all sex trafficking victims seek healthcare while in their trafficking situation, but the healthcare system is often unprepared to respond or simply doesn’t recognize the trafficking issue underlying the presenting healthcare complaint.

Key quote: In these eight cities, health workers’ awareness of sex trafficking was low, as was their knowledge of how to proceed when encountering victims. In addition, we found that many health professionals are reluctant to actively pursue victim identification and to intervene in trafficking situations, further impeding the health sector’s contribution to local antitrafficking efforts. Furthermore, many gaps in health services for victims remain unaddressed. Comprehensive, coordinated systems to meet the full range of trafficking victims’ health needs were absent in the eight cities, and the lack of mental health services for victims was described as the most acute health-related gap. While sex trafficking and the available local health resources may differ from one city to another, antitrafficking stakeholders in all eight cities welcomed greater health sector participation in continued antitrafficking efforts.