Sometimes, the fight to assist human trafficking victims can seem hopeless. But those dedicated to doing something about it in the health care environment, through which a very large percentage of human trafficking victims eventually move through, are not about to give up.
And while it may not be often enough, efforts to make a positive impact on this issue can succeed:
Claudia Lawrence, community mobilization director for Seattle Against Slavery, delivered a presentation to nursing staff, physicians and social workers on the importance of identifying signs of exploitation in children and adults. She focused her lecture on the vast intersectionality of human trafficking.
“Not everyone who is trafficked is aware they are trafficked,” said Lawrence.
Victims of trafficking are clustered in the most vulnerable populations, but any type of person can be trafficked. It could be an immigrant from South America lured by the false promise of a decent job or a youth runaway enticed by the idea of finally having a “father figure,” explained Lawrence.
“Human trafficking is the most non-discriminatory plight in our community,” she said. “It really touches on every single sector of the community.” Nearly 88 percent of human trafficking victims were seen by health care providers while being trafficked, as stated by a study in the Annals of Health Law. The event was hosted by the Kirkland-based hospital’s forensic nurse examiner team. The group of nurses provide 24-hour care to sexual assault survivors, including access to emergency physicians, social workers and support services. Seattle Against Slavery is a grassroots nonprofit organized by citizens in King County over the previous 10 years. Their partnership with the hospital aims to mobilize the community in the fight against labor and sex trafficking.
“Human trafficking is the most non-discriminatory plight in our community,” she said. “It really touches on every single sector of the community.”