Recognising and responding to victims of human trafficking

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2657 (Published 29 April 2013)
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2657

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  1. Sharon Doherty, consultant clinical psychologist,
  2. Rachel Morley, consultant child and adolescent clinical psychologist
  1. 1Compass Team for Asylum Seekers and Refugees, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow G21 4SF, UK
  1. sharon.doherty2{at}ggc.scot.nhs.uk

New guidance for health professionals in the UK

Recent data suggest that 2077 people, almost a quarter of whom were children, were victims of human trafficking in the United Kingdom in 2011.1 Because traffickers go to great lengths to maintain secrecy, these figures are probably an underestimate.1 The trafficking of human beings for sexual and labour exploitation is one of the most highly profitable illegal trades worldwide.2 Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable and use abduction, deception, threat, violence, and other abuses of power to control their victims. Victims are forced to work in the sex industry or in factories, agriculture, or domestic servitude, often over prolonged periods.3 Recognising the “gross violation of human rights” that trafficking represents,4 the UK government ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings in 2009,4 and it opted in to the European Union Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims in 2011.5 This EU directive, which becomes law in the UK in April 2013, requires that member states provide “necessary medical treatment [and] psychological assistance” to those who have been trafficked.

As outlined in a BMJ editorial …

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