Background: Sex trafficking is a growing problem
seen throughout the world. Victims include men, women, and children. Sex
trafficking includes the transporting, selling or trading, and forcing
individuals to perform sex acts for profit. Health conditions such as pregnancy
and abortions, HIV, and STI’s have been linked to individuals who have been
victims of sex trafficking. Other concerns some of these individuals face are
suicide attempts, drug abuse, and sexual violence. Previously, there has been
difficulty with identifying victims of sex trafficking, so there is very little
research on the health concerns they face and their healthcare needs.
Research Questions: What are the health experiences of
women who were previous victims of sex trafficking and are currently
incarcerated? Do these victims of sex trafficking have healthcare access?
Sample: Twenty-one women, ages 19 to 60
participated in this study. These women were incarcerated in Rikers Island
Measures: Interviews were recorded and transcribed
by a transcription agency. The research team then read through transcripts to
identify themes and create a coding scheme.
Methods: Cross-sectional study, women who were
trafficked divided into trafficking rings or other means of trafficking (by
family member, significant other, etc.).
Results: Many of the women reached out for
healthcare of STI and HIV testing, pregnancy, rape, traumatic injury, and
suicide attempts. Of these women, those who experienced sexual exploitation
through a trafficking ring paid for healthcare out of pocket, due to inactive
Medicaid. Individuals who had not experienced sex trafficking rings paid for
healthcare through the use of Medicaid. Individuals most commonly sought healthcare
in emergency departments, jails, and health clinics due to lack of personal
identification documents and insurance. Many of these women did not experience
healthcare until incarceration. Some women avoided seeking healthcare altogether
due to the possibility of open warrants. Women who had become pregnant were
forced to have abortions or received prenatal care.
Conclusion: This study brought forth some of the
issues women face during and after sex trafficking. The results of this study
can be used to help healthcare providers identify sex trafficking victims and
assist them with care. This study can also help others design future research
and start a dialogue about the health issues many of the survivors encounter.
2 Strengths: The researchers did not use individuals
who did not meet the legal definition of sex trafficking. I thought this was a
strength because it left little to no room for error regarding individuals who
thought they were trafficked and those who were victims without a doubt. Another
strength was that they identified women based on whether they were a part of a
trafficking ring or were not. I thought this was a strength because it
highlighted the differences in healthcare experiences these women had.
2 Weaknesses: I believe that the sample size was too
small, getting the information from twenty-one women does not illustrate majority
of the experiences of victims. Another weakness of the study/paper was that the
researchers did not go into detail about the code they came up with for
interviews. I think it would be beneficial for those of us reading on the topic
to know and understand what interviews or topics they considered to be similar.