Thursday, August 28, 2014

Human trafficking victim: Healthcare professionals can help

Excerpted from "Kidnap Victim Addresses Human Trafficking Forum," ABC News, August 14, 2014, - A woman who was held captive for nine months has underscored the importance of work performed by health care professionals, law enforcement and social workers to rescue and support kidnap victims. Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour told a South Dakota forum on Wednesday that such work "makes a difference" in the fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse.
"People like you brought me back," Smart-Gilmour told the audience.

Smart-Gilmour was taken from her Salt Lake City bedroom in June 2002 at age 14 and held for nine months. Now 26, she described her capture and the repeated sexual assaults she endured. She told how she was moved from Utah to California and constantly threated with death if she tried to escape.

She stressed that authorities must have protocols in place to deal with rescued victims. Smart-Gilmour recalled how she was handcuffed, taken to the police station and left in a "little room with no windows" right after police officers found her. The situation, she said, did not make her feel comfortable. Since her rescue, she has started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to protect children and educate them about violent and sexual crimes.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “Last week I attended in Atlanta a roundtable discussion group, led by trafficking expert Dr. Laura Lederer, focused on strategies to help healthcare professionals recognize and respond to victims of human trafficking. I began working with Laura over a decade ago when she was helping to lead the U.S. State Department's fight against trafficking. She was one of the first to recognize the tremendous potential for healthcare professionals to recognize and respond to human trafficking victims, who often visit healthcare facilities during their captivity.

“Along with CMDA Health Consultant on Human Trafficking Dr. Jeff Barrows, we engaged the White House, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Homeland Security, the AIDS ambassador and many others in an effort to get the government to implement programs to encourage the healthcare community to respond to opportunities to help human trafficking victims. I remember a frustrating meeting in the White House with CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding and the President's advisors, trying to convince her of the need while she questioned the data supplied by the FBI.

“Since then, more research data has proved the point, and most recently a published research project led by Dr. Lederer highlights the tremendous opportunities for healthcare professionals to make a difference. A comprehensive study found that:
  • Of victims who answered the questions about their contact with healthcare (N=98), 87.8 percent had contact with a healthcare provider while they were being trafficked.
  • By far the most frequently reported treatment site was a hospital/emergency room, with 63.3 percent being treated at such a facility. Survivors also had significant contact with clinical treatment facilities, most commonly Planned Parenthood clinics, which more than a quarter of survivors (29.6 percent) visited. More than half (57.1 percent) of respondents had received treatment at some type of clinic (urgent care, women's health, neighborhood or Planned Parenthood).
  • Pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion were all common experiences for survivors in the study. More than half (55.2 percent) of the 67 respondents who answered reported at least one abortion, with 20 respondents (29.9 percent) reporting multiple abortions; survivors in this study similarly reported that they often did not freely choose the abortions they had while being trafficked.
“You can make a difference. Your education on how to recognize and respond to victims of human trafficking can mean the difference between life and death, freedom and slavery for a victim you may encounter. Please consider taking the CME-credit online course below.”

Use CMDA's online modules for human trafficking education to obtain CME credit while equipping yourself to recognize, respond and treat victims of human trafficking.

"Health consequences of sex trafficking and their implications for identifying victims in healthcare facilities" - published research by Dr. Laura Lederer

CMDA's online modules for human trafficking education

Additional resources on human trafficking from CMDA

To learn more about a new CMDA Commission on Human Trafficking to help prepare healthcare professionals to identify and assist victims of human trafficking contact Dr. Jeffrey Barrows at:

No comments:

Post a Comment