How Trafficking Impacts Those Who Identify As Female by Cadence Brown (Edited by Priyanka Dwivedi)
Individuals that identify as female are heavily affected by human trafficking, and this can be proven by the numerical statistic that 70% of all human trafficking victims are women. Females are the highest-trafficked gender, and make up 85.94% of the 18-20-year-olds who are trafficked. Almost half of all trafficked women are single; Additionally, forms of abuse (e.x., psychological, physical and sexual) are more often used against females as a method of control (Human Trafficking and Gender).
It is very important to consider why women and girls are disproportionately affected by trafficking. The first factor is gender inequality; factors contributing to this may be a lack of viable employment, control over financials, and limited education. Discriminatory labor, migration laws, and genderblind policies play a role in how females are affected in trafficking. Globally, women account for about 48% of international migrants. There is much risk for them during migration, and even after in their new place of work, where they face gender discrimination. Sometimes, females end up in unregulated sectors, with not much legal protection; they are not able to easily negotiate conditions of work, making them susceptible to trafficking. Gender-based violence and cultural norms perpetuate violence towards women, making them vulnerable. Post-conflict and humanitarian crises can be a particularly risky time for women and girls; armed groups often institute sexual slavery, domestic servitude, forced marriages, and child marriages (Gender Dimensions of Human Trafficking).
Females that are trafficked can face serious health problems, from physical issues to reproductive and mental health issues. Those who are sexually exploited may not have access to or may not be permitted to use various forms of contraceptives (such as condoms), and are consequently vulnerable to reproductive health concerns such as STDs, pregnancy, and miscarriages. Psychologically, they may have implications such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and many other problems. Substance abuse and addiction can also manifest due to abusers encouraging drug use or as a coping mechanism. Anecdotal evidence shows that socially, people who are trafficked are impacted in various ways, such as illiteracy, homelessness, poverty, and societal isolation (Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls). There is also a lack of resources and options for women, which in turn creates an increased risk of violence and abuse compared to non-trafficked females.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “many trafficked individuals present to outpatient obstetrics and gynecology clinics, community health centers, family planning clinics, urgent care centers, and adolescent medicine clinics, and one-half of all female victims of sex trafficking have visited the emergency department while involved in sex trafficking.” Women’s healthcare professionals need to be able to recognize trafficking and have resources to help the individual in ways that are most beneficial. One way this could be achieved is by knowing indicators. These can be signs of abuse, individuals not speaking for themselves, other people with them refusing privacy, or trying to interpret for them instead of a professional (Human Trafficking).
Trafficking violates human rights. Females are in the hands of the abuser because oftentimes they can’t speak the same language, don’t know the cultural customs of the region, or have restrictions applied to them. In such cases, it becomes very hard for such individuals to get out of certain situations because they may not have the proper documentation to travel across borders from the situation. Threats may also be used against them, such as physical and sexual harm to family or self (Trafficking in Women).
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