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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.

shopping small business

Small Business Saturday a day to support your local Latino small businesses

Despite the disadvantages Latino small businesses face, they have outstripped small business growth’s national rates. However, they encounter barriers that other small business owners and entrepreneurs might find easy to overcome. Frequently, financial education and language barriers drag down Latino small businesses compared to other demographics. Still, “when there’s a will there’s a way,” and nobody believes this truth more than a Latino small business owner.

shopping small business

Despite the disadvantages Hispanic businesses face, they have outstripped small business growth’s national rates. However, they encounter barriers that other small business owners and entrepreneurs might find easy to overcome. Those barriers are related to low levels of education and literacy, especially in the financial literacy arena, lack of English language skills, and difficulties in navigating the financial system in the United States.

When I arrived in this country in 1990, I realized that this society was based on the power of literacy and the written language, a great disadvantage for a number of immigrants who come from countries where literacy is a luxury, or from areas where large indigenous populations speak native languages, many of which do not have a written format. They come from societies based on verbal or oral communication and solidarity networks. It is still a common practice for small businesses to keep their finances in a pen and paper fashion.

Participants at 2016 Internet Marketing Week SBDCNJ - Rutgerts School of Business NJ

Several business courses are offered through SBDC around the country. Here: Sunny Kancherla, Director, NJSBDC E-Business Division at Participants at 2016 Internet Marketing Week SBDCNJ – Rutgers School of Business NJ

Americans are used to a highly functional literate society based on written communication in almost every aspect of their lives: school, media, business, banking, you name it. The rise and imperative use of technology leave many behind. Digital dexterity and knowledge are mandatory in any business environment wanting to compete in the real world.

Most foreign degrees are usually assessed by independent evaluators or academic institutions without certain equivalence. For instance, a six-year professional degree in an area of expertise, common in many Latin American universities, might be compared to an undergraduate degree in the United States.

Professional and entrepreneurial immigrants might have some advantages over their counterpart immigrant workers but only if they master the English language. Even so, they encounter difficulties in starting a new business until they get some degree of acculturation and understanding of the system’s mechanisms.

Being there, doing that

Carlos Quintana, a California community organizer that leads an organization called “Manos Unidos” –yes, this is not a typo- says he works with people from Mexico, Argentina, Peru and other countries who often are wary of applying for a grant, joining a chamber of commerce or volunteering for a city advisory commission because they have experience with corrupt agencies in their native countries.

Many, Quintana says, have the drive to start businesses but don’t understand the rules about taxes, accounting, and payroll. Also, he mentions the digital divide; Latinos are not using computers, which are a primary source of information. His organization, like many others throughout the country, can help them figure out planning and licensing requirements and can connect them with Spanish-speaking accountants and tax preparers.

However, the language divide is still a concern for many Latino business owners who would like to grow their businesses and find out about opportunities in state, federal or the private sector. The tricky part is to find a program designed for learning enough specific English business vocabulary to get by at a reasonable cost.  Specialized packages can go from $1500 and up, just to start. Some universities do offer continuing education short programs such as University of South Florida or Columbia University summer courses. However, these classes are too expensive and more suitable for corporate employees or international business students.

Latino small businesses

CHELSEA, MA – JULY 23: Adult education students listen at Centro Latino in Chelsea, a suburb where the Latino population has boomed. (Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Additional barriers in financial literacy and best practices

A report from the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, 26 counties in northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, states that although they have seen an impressive growth in their Latino small businesses –among the six states in the Ninth Federal Reserve District, Minnesota had the highest percentage increase in revenues for Hispanic businesses, at 248 percent for the period 2002–2007–, they still lag behind national levels.

“The low average for gross receipts may be partly due to the average size of Hispanic-owned businesses. Many of them are microenterprises, or establishments with zero to just a few paid employees. But there are other factors besides size that keep Hispanic-owned businesses from reaching their potential.” Among others, the report mentioned causes such as having a fear of government and established institutions, a limited understanding of American business processes, and encountering a lack of culturally friendly or linguistically appropriate services at local institutions.

Likewise, they have detected “difficulties understanding and communicating with the state and city structures necessary for opening a business. Examples include the need for a federal and state tax ID, registration forms, and property taxes. Also, many Latino entrepreneurs have limited experience with effective business sustainability practices. Limited knowledge in fields like accounting, commercial bank accounts and credit history poses a major roadblock for businesses that would otherwise be of great contribution to Minnesota’s general economy.”

Unfortunately, I have not found many options other than maybe small initiatives at local community level dealing with these barriers, and I would love to hear from more of them. Latinos are very entrepreneurial; the wealth and employment potential they can bring to their communities should not be underestimated. Moreover, they should be taken as an unbeaten role model to be successful against all odds.

shopping small business

Small Business Saturday: Against the odds, Latino small businesses thrive

Financial education and language barriers drag down Latino small businesses compared to other demographics. Still, “when there’s a will there’s a way,” and nobody believes this truth more than a Latino small business owner.

shopping small business

Despite the disadvantages Hispanic businesses face, they have outstripped small business growth’s national rates. However, they encounter barriers that other small business owners and entrepreneurs might find easy to overcome. Those barriers are related to low levels of education and literacy, especially in the financial literacy arena, lack of English language skills, and difficulties in navigating the financial system in the United States.

When I arrived in this country in 1990, I realized that this society was based on the power of literacy and the written language, a great disadvantage for a number of immigrants who come from countries where literacy is a luxury, or from areas where large indigenous populations speak native languages, many of which do not have a written format. They come from societies based on verbal or oral communication and solidarity networks. It is still a common practice for small businesses to keep their finances in a pen and paper fashion.

Participants at 2016 Internet Marketing Week SBDCNJ - Rutgerts School of Business NJ

Several business courses are offered through SBDC around the country. Here: Sunny Kancherla, Director, NJSBDC E-Business Division at Participants at 2016 Internet Marketing Week SBDCNJ – Rutgers School of Business NJ

Americans are used to a highly functional literate society based on written communication in almost every aspect of their lives: school, media, business, banking, you name it. The rise and imperative use of technology leave many behind. Digital dexterity and knowledge are mandatory in any business environment wanting to compete in the real world.

Most foreign degrees are usually assessed by independent evaluators or academic institutions without certain equivalence. For instance, a six-year professional degree in an area of expertise, common in many Latin American universities, might be compared to an undergraduate degree in the United States.

Professional and entrepreneurial immigrants might have some advantages over their counterpart immigrant workers but only if they master the English language. Even so, they encounter difficulties in starting a new business until they get some degree of acculturation and understanding of the system’s mechanisms.

Being there, doing that

Carlos Quintana, a California community organizer that leads an organization called “Manos Unidos” –yes, this is not a typo- says he works with people from Mexico, Argentina, Peru and other countries who often are wary of applying for a grant, joining a chamber of commerce or volunteering for a city advisory commission because they have experience with corrupt agencies in their native countries.

Many, Quintana says, have the drive to start businesses but don’t understand the rules about taxes, accounting, and payroll. Also, he mentions the digital divide; Latinos are not using computers, which are a primary source of information. His organization, like many others throughout the country, can help them figure out planning and licensing requirements and can connect them with Spanish-speaking accountants and tax preparers.

However, the language divide is still a concern for many Latino business owners who would like to grow their businesses and find out about opportunities in state, federal or the private sector. The tricky part is to find a program designed for learning enough specific English business vocabulary to get by at a reasonable cost.  Specialized packages can go from $1500 and up, just to start. Some universities do offer continuing education short programs such as University of South Florida or Columbia University summer courses. However, these classes are too expensive and more suitable for corporate employees or international business students.

Latino small businesses

CHELSEA, MA – JULY 23: Adult education students listen at Centro Latino in Chelsea, a suburb where the Latino population has boomed. (Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Additional barriers in financial literacy and best practices

A report from the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, 26 counties in northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, states that although they have seen an impressive growth in their Latino small businesses –among the six states in the Ninth Federal Reserve District, Minnesota had the highest percentage increase in revenues for Hispanic businesses, at 248 percent for the period 2002–2007–, they still lag behind national levels.

“The low average for gross receipts may be partly due to the average size of Hispanic-owned businesses. Many of them are microenterprises, or establishments with zero to just a few paid employees. But there are other factors besides size that keep Hispanic-owned businesses from reaching their potential.” Among others, the report mentioned causes such as having a fear of government and established institutions, a limited understanding of American business processes, and encountering a lack of culturally friendly or linguistically appropriate services at local institutions.

Likewise, they have detected “difficulties understanding and communicating with the state and city structures necessary for opening a business. Examples include the need for a federal and state tax ID, registration forms, and property taxes. Also, many Latino entrepreneurs have limited experience with effective business sustainability practices. Limited knowledge in fields like accounting, commercial bank accounts and credit history poses a major roadblock for businesses that would otherwise be of great contribution to Minnesota’s general economy.”

Unfortunately, I have not found many options other than maybe small initiatives at local community level dealing with these barriers, and I would love to hear from more of them. Latinos are very entrepreneurial; the wealth and employment potential they can bring to their communities should not be underestimated. Moreover, they should be taken as an unbeaten role model to be successful against all odds.