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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

help, victim, human trafficking

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.

Ivana Sedia is helping people connect and transcend borders through language translation services

Ivana Sedia is the founder of Unida Translation, which delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ivana moved to the U.S. with her family in 1989. In addition to her Argentinian roots, Ivana is also Italian and Macedonian and is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and English with knowledge of Macedonian.

Ivana Sedia,  Unida Translation

Ivana Sedia, founder of Unida Translation. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

A passion for language-learning sparks business 

Ivana Sedia, founder of Unida Translation. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

Ivana’s interest in languages began when she was a little girl and only continued to grow throughout her life. She is passionate about helping people and cultures transcend borders and find understanding and commonality through language. With experience with writing in Spanish and English for Latino Social Magazine and working for the government by assisting non-English speaking immigrants, an MBA in management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, International Relations and Diplomacy with a minor in Italian, Ivana decided to open her own translation service business, Unida Translation.

The idea for her business was born after the birth of Ivana’s first child. 

Ivana recounts, “The idea of trekking from home in Indiana to Chicago downtown every day, with my new baby on my hip, was less than ideal and with the exuberant cost of daycare close to home, I chose to leave the Illinois Secretary of State and step into my new role as a full-time mom.” 

While at home, Ivana kept herself updated with the “working world” by translating documents and hosting Spanish and Italian lessons. These hobbies would eventually turn into her very own translation service business. However, like many entrepreneurs and business owners know, the road was not without some struggles. 

Ivana with her husband and two children. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia)

“Teaching Italian and Spanish is my passion, but I was advised by so many individuals that my classes were not going to be enough to grow my business,” said Ivana. “Then COVID-19 hit, and my clients were too afraid to come to my classes. Contracts that I had were canceled. Halfway through 2020, I thought my business was over, but then I received a surprise call and found out that I had won the Indiana Technical Assistance Program (INTAP) grant. Thanks to this grant, I was able to launch a new brand to refresh and become Unida Translation.” 

This experience taught her not to lose faith as the grant came just when she needed it most. 

“Do not lose your faith in applying for help and God,” she says to other entrepreneurs. “I applied for this grant twice and failed the first time, but then the grant came at the right time.” 

You might be interested: Popular English ESL YouTuber launches innovative new language learning app 

Connecting and transcending across borders 

Ivana cites her knowledge of cultures and languages as one of her greatest strengths. It is through these strengths that she is able to help people understand each other and connect and transcend across borders. Her connections with people across the world have also helped her in her business and in the business world. Another crucial strength for Ivana was growing up in a family of entrepreneurs which gave her early life experience in business. 

“Nothing beats experience!” she says. “Even if it is experience from watching your parents sell while you were playing with your Barbies.” 

translation services, Unida Translation

Ivana and the Unida Translation team. (Photo courtesy Ivana Sedia) 

For Ivana, success is achieved whenever she is able to help people communicate and connect better. She shares with us one of her favorite stories of a time she helped someone through her translation services. 

“It is no secret to the people who really know me that I am always a hopeless romantic! Still, my favorite story about my business was when a client from the government approached me and asked me to translate a letter from English to Spanish because he wanted to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. It was such a romantic and respectful letter and I really enjoyed translating it! It is translation jobs like that sort that keep me going so that I can continue to help people communicate and in turn, achieve success.” 

To other minority women who are thinking of starting their own venture, Ivana shares a few words of wisdom that she has learned along her own journey as a Latina entrepreneur and business owner. 

“Just do it. Do not be afraid because you never know what your business will be, and you will always wonder ‘what-if.’ Of course, do not go crazy! Have limits especially on how money is spent. Also, be open to interacting with others, put all your insecurities and judgement aside. Lock it up! Ask questions and mingle with others so get off your phone. To the women who want to be successful in their professions or careers and I think the same applies to entrepreneurs, remember that learning is never enough. Go get that degree or take that course to get certified. After all, like my mom always said to me, ‘They can take away your car, house, man, friends, ideas, but no one can take away your degree or certification!’”