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Scale And Health Implications Of Human Trafficking Deserve More Attention

June 22, 2011

Press Release from PLoS Medicine

Despite a high level of global awareness of trafficking in persons, not enough is known about the scale and health implications of trafficking, according to a new editorial published in this week’s PLoS Medicine. The editorial accompanies a six-part series on Migration and Health (http://www.ploscollections.org/article/browseIssue.action?issue=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fissue.pcol.v07.i14), published by PLoS Medicine in May and June 2011.

The editors argue that even compiling an international picture of the numbers affected by trafficking is challenging, with statistical estimates likely biased towards over-detection of women and girls who are trafficked into the sex trade, and under-recognition and under-detection of those who are trafficked for other reasons, such as into bonded labor or domestic servitude. Although guidance exists for healthcare providers on caring for trafficked persons (http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/activities/by-theme/migration-health/caring-for-trafficked-persons/), the health implications are poorly understood, and protection systems may be complex, differ considerably between countries, and require cooperation between multiple types of services. The editors argue that many countries do not do enough to meet their responsibilities towards the Palermo Protocols (international policies establishing the duty of states to prevent trafficking, protect those affected, and prosecute traffickers).

The editors comment: “Despite these policies, the reality is that we still do not know enough about the scale and impact of trafficking, and many countries lack the political will to provide the protection and health-related services that those made vulnerable through trafficking most need”.

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