Preventing the trafficking of women and girls is a complex problem that requires cross-disciplinary research, training and education, public awareness and new policies at every level of government, according to the report of a task force appointed by the American Psychological Association.
“There is no typical case of human trafficking, which often overlaps with other closely related crimes, such as human smuggling, prostitution, intimate partner violence and child abuse,” according to the Report of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls. “Human trafficking is also extremely difficult to measure. The clandestine nature of the crime, the lack of a comprehensive centralized database of human trafficking cases, the sheer diversity of trafficking situations and experience, and the difficulty in accessing persons with knowledge of the phenomenon, including trafficked women and girls themselves, contribute to the gaps and weaknesses in the empirical research.”
The mental and physical health impact of trafficking on survivors is dire, according to the task force. These include anxiety, depression, self-injurious behavior, substance addiction, suicidal ideation and suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological issues, sexually transmitted diseases and traumatic brain injuries. Nevertheless, despite the devastating impacts of the trafficking experience, survivors can and do heal. Survivors of trafficking have been leaders in anti-trafficking work in the United States, and provide essential expertise for developing prevention efforts, treatment programs and policy responses.
Effective anti-trafficking programs in the United States are in their infancy, according to the task force. Programs “are not always guided by a comprehensive understanding of the problem,” they wrote. “The field is in need of systematic, high-quality research to determine what works and what does not in preventing trafficking, in protecting victims and in prosecuting those engaged in the crime of human trafficking.”
Learn more at the American Psychological Association’s Imperial Valley News article: Task Force Report Highlights Problem of Human Trafficking of US Women and Girls.