Background: Human trafficking, which affects over 20 million people worldwide and includes both forced labor and sexual exploitation, is an egregious human rights violation that has profound personal and public health implications. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, and the Justice Department found that 83% of domestic sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens. It is estimated that up to 88% of human trafficking victims in the U.S. report encountering a health care provider, with over 50% of these encounters occurring in the emergency/urgent care setting. Future health care providers are in a unique position to identify victims of human trafficking and mitigate the devastating effects. However, one study showed that 95% of the surveyed ER doctors and nurses have never received formal training on human trafficking.
Take Action: Human trafficking victims endure negative physical and mental health outcomes from their trauma and exploitation. Future medical providers must be equipped to identify victims of human trafficking, treat their unique health care needs, and advocate for their care and rehabilitation:
1) Education & Training: Learn how to identify victims of labor and sex trafficking, and advocate for proper protocols at your hospitals.
--Participate in educational initiatives for health providers.
--If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Hotline for assistance or to report a case.
2) National Advocacy:
--Support HR 5405 S.O.A.R. to Health and Wellness Act of 2016, which would help train medical professionals to identify and respond to cases of human trafficking.
3) State Advocacy: Learn about how your state’s laws measure up.
--For example, New York recently implemented a new law to help identify and assess human trafficking victims in hospitals across the state.