250829 Human Trafficking and Health: Setting a new public health agenda through a gender analysis

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Natalia Linos, MS , Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon that has received significant attention from human rights advocates, international organizations, and the media. Public health research has recently begun to examine the health impacts of trafficking, but has only examined the health needs of victims of sex trafficking. The lack of research on potential health outcomes associated with other forms of exploitation, including trafficking into domestic labor, construction, factory or agricultural work, may negatively impact the availability and quality of services for victims of such exploitation. A review of international reports and legal frameworks to combat trafficking reveals that both men and women, boys and girls, can be victims of human trafficking. Public health research to date, however, has only examined the needs of women and children who are the majority of victims trafficked into sex work. This gender analysis tries to reframe the discourse around trafficking in public health and calls on researchers to consider the different exposures and potential health outcomes faced by male and female victims of trafficking because of their gender and sex, separately and synergistically, as well as the power dynamics related to age, class, race, ethnicity, and religion, that make some women and some men more vulnerable to trafficking and poor health outcomes. The suggested framework emerging from this gender analysis hopes to inform future research as well as policies and programs for combating trafficking and serve the needs of victims.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
To define human trafficking for public health research and assess current research in this field. To explain how a failure to consider the potentially distinct role of ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ on the relationship between trafficking and health is both methodologically and ethically problematic, and could negatively impact policies and the availability of services for some victims of trafficking.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This research is part of my doctoral research at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.