Negative health consequences predominate in victims of human trafficking
Human trafficking is a felony that violates human rights. Women, children, and men are exploited for various purposes, including forced labor and prostitution. According to the International Labor Organization, it is estimated that almost 21 million people suffer from sexual and labor exploitation. Approximately a 30% of victims are boys and 70% are women and girls.
The World Day against Trafficking was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in order to adopt a global plan action to fight trafficking and stop all forms of violence and exploitation against women and children. This problem has a profound impact to biomedical, psychological, and social well-being levels on the people and the population around the world.
A study conducted in 2003 on women in Europe that had been victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes, showed that they suffered various types of sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse; as well as a lot of negative health consequences, such as physical injuries, sexual and reproductive problems including HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse problems.
More recent investigations have stressed the need to address the consequences of trafficking on psychological and mental health. Studies conducted on women who survived sex trafficking have shown a high amount of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and complex psychological effects this population group experience.
Complex PTSD include alterations in affection, dissociation, personal relationships, somatization, amongst others. A historical cohort study aimed to investigate and compare the number of symptoms of complex PTSD in child victims of trafficking and non-victim children that had experienced multiple or single trauma. It showed that a high proportion of trafficked children with PTSD had symptoms of complex PTSD.
Many are the efforts made to highlight this problem, as well as the costs that human trafficking has on the lives of the affected communities. However, there is still much to do, especially by governmental institutions, health organizations and the community to provide adequate services to survivors and to understand the risks and the behavior of this crime.
- General Assembly of the United Nations.
- Article: “Advancing the Science on the Biopsychosocial Effects of Human Trafficking”. (2018). Behavioral Medicine, 44:3, 175-176
- Article: “Psychological Consequences of Human Trafficking: Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Trafficked Children”. (2018). Behavioral Medicine, 44:3, 234-241
- Article: “Human trafficking and exploitation: A global health concern”. (2017). PLoS Med 14(11)