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How translation services can help combat human trafficking

Translation services are a crucial tool for healthcare professionals in identifying and aiding victims of human trafficking. 

Healthcare providers may not realize they are a crucial partner in combating and preventing human trafficking, particularly during and after emergency events. Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. It is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand, like drugs or arms trafficking. In the United States alone, 50,000 persons are trafficked into the country every year, and there are approximately 400,000 domestic minors involved in trafficking. 

Health care providers are often the only professionals to interact with trafficking victims who are still in captivity. According to the Polaris Project, up to 88% of trafficking victims access health care during their trafficking situation. Health care providers are in a unique position to identify victims of trafficking and provide aid. 

unida translation, translation services,Below is an article from Latinas in Business Member, Ivana Sedia’s blog on how translation services can help healthcare professionals combat human trafficking. Ivana is the CEO and founder of Unida Translations, a translation company that delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. 

You might be interested: Ivana Sedia is helping people connect and transcend borders through language translation services

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Many victims do not speak English, which makes translation services all the more  crucial. (Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels)

How Translation Services Can Help Healthcare Professionals Combat Human Trafficking

John, a 41-year-old male is brought to your walk-in clinic by his friend because he’s having trouble walking due to a nasty rash on his foot. Jane, a 19-year-old female arrives at your walk-in clinic about an hour later. She is brought in by her mother because Jane is suffering from intense stomach pain. Is John a patient or a victim of human trafficking? Is Jane a patient or another victim of human trafficking? There’s a decent chance that either or both are actually victims of human trafficking.

The good news is that your organization can actually do something to combat human trafficking. Did you know human trafficking is currently an extensive form of slavery throughout the United States? Victims of human trafficking can be of any gender, race, religion, or nationality. Human trafficking includes domestic labor, industrial labor, and farm labor. It also includes sex labor. In fact, over 85% of human trafficking victims in the United States are involved in the sex trade.

For many victims, the only opportunity to find help is when they see a healthcare professional. (Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels)

For many of these victims, the only opportunity to find help is when they see a healthcare professional. In essence, health care providers are often the only professionals to interact with trafficking victims who are still in captivity. The expert assessment and interview skills of providers contribute to their readiness to identify victims of trafficking. However, a great deal of the human trafficking victims do not speak English. That means your organization will need the help of a professional translation service to discover if the patient is truly a victim of human trafficking.

Effective communication between a patient and a healthcare professional is a much-needed tool. In fact, it can make the difference between helping free the victim or simply watching them walk out the door with their captor. If the patient has a companion who refuses to leave the examination room it’s a key red flag that something is wrong. If the companion insists on translating for the patient it’s another red flag that the patient may be a victim of human trafficking.

This is also a key area where a professional translation service can help. If the patient speaks a language that nobody else in the clinic speaks, the professional translation service can determine whether or not the patient’s companion is actually telling the truth. Ultimately, if the companion attempts to control the information during the examination, the patient may very well be a victim of human trafficking. Effective translation is the critical element to discovering that.


This article was originally published on Unida Translation’s blog.