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The purpose is to share best practices, expand evidence-based practices, and promote improved systems of care for victims of human trafficking. Restoring the physical and mental health of trafficking survivors is a critical part of protection and assistance services, and the role of global health professionals in meeting this challenge is evolving rapidly.

Researchers and clinicians have called for more specialized education and training for health care professionals, the development of new protocols for the identification of trafficking victims in health care settings, culturally sensitive and safe procedures for responding when a victim is identified, and the provision of comprehensive care post-trafficking. While modern slavery is unique in its manifestations and impact on victims, global health professionals are encouraged to build on lessons learned from decades of experience shaping the public health response to other forms of abuse, such as domestic violence, in order to improve and expand upon current practices.

In addition, global health professionals are uniquely positioned to conduct research on the epidemiology of human trafficking, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of various treatment approaches and direct services provided to victims of trafficking. Depending upon their specialty and position, global health professionals can provide leadership and can contribute in numerous ways to improve the response to human trafficking, only a few of which are listed below:.

Become informed about the contexts in which human trafficking is found today and be able to identify a person who may be a victim of human trafficking. Develop and teach human trafficking courses in education and training programs for health professionals who serve in a wide range of health care settings and who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking or be called on to support services for victims. Such training is needed for the full range of health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, dentists, psychologists, social workers, drug abuse counselors, health administrators, and others.

Build on the existing body of human trafficking-related research and evaluation by conducting studies that examine key health issues resulting from human trafficking and that explore effective means of health care delivery. Become informed about local laws and government policies and procedures related to human trafficking, and identify ways to improve health-related responses and the delivery of comprehensive, coordinated services for survivors. Establish linkages with interagency partners that have responsibility for policies and procedures related to human trafficking, and participate in interagency task forces and other efforts aimed at developing coordinated, interdisciplinary anti-trafficking protocols.

Work to develop trauma-informed policies and procedures in health care delivery settings that ensure recognition of the signs of human trafficking, the establishment of protocols to follow for suspected cases of human trafficking, linkages with appropriate resources, and staff training to ensure implementation. Work with NGOs and faith-based communities that are providing services to survivors of human trafficking to help expand and improve services to address the physical and mental health needs of survivors. Join or create an online network of health professionals to share information on challenges and advances in health care responses to human trafficking.

Vannak Prum's journey to freedom described earlier is an inspiration, and his unique contributions to ending modern slavery reflect the resilience displayed by many survivors of horrendous abuses suffered at the hands of traffickers.

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His experience also highlights the challenges we face going forward. From the time he escaped the fishing boat on which he was enslaved, Mr. Prum encountered police, nurses, doctors, and jailers who did not recognize his circumstances to be those of human trafficking. Most of the people with whom he came in contact did not see him as a trafficking victim in need of help, but rather as an illegal alien, a migrant worker, or an arrestee. The tragedy of Mr. Prum's situation going unrecognized, untreated, and unserved is repeated countless times every day around the world.

With in-depth training, improved protocols, and enhanced interagency coordination, health professionals can change previously missed opportunities into concrete steps toward our common goal—a world without slavery. Combating trafficking in persons: a call to action for global health professionals. Glob Health Sci Pact. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Glob Health Sci Pract. Published online Jul 8.

Luis CdeBaca a U. Jane Nady Sigmon a U.

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Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Correspondence to Jane Nady Sigmon vog. Received Sep 26; Accepted May This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are properly cited. A report from the International Labour Organization ILO provided additional information about the victims of human trafficking 1 : An estimated 21 million to 30 million people worldwide are living in servitude.

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The majority of victims of human trafficking are women and girls. Depending upon their specialty and position, global health professionals can provide leadership and can contribute in numerous ways to improve the response to human trafficking, only a few of which are listed below: Become informed about the contexts in which human trafficking is found today and be able to identify a person who may be a victim of human trafficking.

Notes Competing Interests : None declared. ILO global estimate of forced labour: results and methodology. The global slavery index Department of State. Department of State; Department of State: diplomacy in action [Internet]. Department of State; Dec 3 [cited Apr 14]. Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in , 49 states have enacted legislation that criminalizes human trafficking and empowers state and local law enforcement — often the first responders to interact with victims — to investigate these cases without depending on federal authorities and to prosecute human trafficking cases in state courts.

Increased involvement of state and local law enforcement is critical because they handle the bulk of criminal cases in the United States. Even before the passage of state anti-trafficking legislation, federal law enforcement requested that state and local officers "be the eyes and ears for [federal law enforcement in] recognizing, uncovering and responding to circumstances that may appear to be routine street crime, but may ultimately turn out to be a human trafficking case.

Despite this increased involvement, reports show that fewer trafficking cases have been identified and prosecuted than would be expected given current estimates.

NIJ funded Amy Farrell and her colleagues at Northeastern University and researchers at the Urban Institute to examine the challenges facing state and local criminal justice systems when investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases. The researchers conducted a site study that included in-depth interviews with practitioners from federal, state and local law enforcement; state and federal prosecutors; victim service providers; and other stakeholders.

The researchers also analyzed data from closed human trafficking case files [20] to determine which characteristics of human trafficking cases attract local law enforcement's attention and predict adjudicatory outcomes. Here is what the researchers found:. The study confirmed that identifying victims is particularly challenging because perpetrators hide and move their victims. The interviews also revealed that the cultural and organizational characteristics of police agencies can hinder efforts to identify victims and that local law enforcement and communities generally do not make combating human trafficking a priority.

The cases the researchers reviewed had primarily been identified through reactive approaches, illustrating that officers generally wait for victims to self-identify or for community tips about potential victimization to be received before they launch investigations. The researchers found that law enforcement uniformly lamented the lack of identified labor trafficking cases, suggesting that although officers believe labor trafficking is occurring in local communities, they have not received information about these cases.

The use of proactive strategies to identify trafficking cases was uncommon and rarely involved cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutors. Among the indicators found were threatening to harm or actually physically or nonphysically harming the victim; demeaning and demoralizing the victim; dominating, intimidating and controlling the victim; and disorienting and depriving the victim of alternatives. Interviews with practitioners confirmed what other research has shown: Victims were reluctant to cooperate with investigations because they either feared retaliation from their trafficker or distrusted law enforcement.


In some cases, because jurisdictions lacked specialized services for trafficking victims, such as secure housing, law enforcement officers arrested victims to keep them from returning to their traffickers or to help them feel safe from pimps and thereby encourage the victims' cooperation in the investigation. Although the arrest was often for the victim's protection, it essentially resulted in the victim being treated like a suspect. These victims may feel revictimized and experience the same negative emotions they experienced in the trafficking situation, thus adding to often pre-existing distrust of law enforcement.

Specialized services for trafficking victims are all the more critical because victims' loyalty to their traffickers may stem, in part, from feelings that they have no practical alternatives to their current situation. One of the law enforcement practitioners interviewed explained the potential impact that additional resources could have on combating trafficking by providing victims with a viable alternative:. We have nothing to say, "Hey, I can put you up in … this place.

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And I can help you get an education. And I can help you get a job. It explores trafficking in its broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights. The Review offers an outlet and space for dialogue between academics, practitioners and advocates seeking to communicate new ideas and findings to those working for and with trafficked persons.

A Hidden Crime

Each issue relates to an emerging or overlooked theme in the field of human trafficking. Each issue features a Debate Section in which two or more sides of a contentious issue are presented. The Review presents rigorously considered, peer reviewed material in clear English. The journal is an open access, academic publication with a readership in over countries. The Review publishes two issues per year since Gallagher, Independent scholar and legal advisor. That is a REAL strength of your journal.

Member Record: Anti-Trafficking Review

Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer. Published: Butterfly: Resisting the harms of anti-trafficking policies and fostering peer-based organising in Canada. Of Raids and Returns: Sex work movement, police oppression, and the politics of the ordinary in Sonagachi, India. Time to Turn Up the Volume. Anti-trafficking Efforts and Colonial Violence in Canada.