Intended for healthcare professionals


Meeting the health needs of trafficked persons

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 26 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3326
  1. Cathy Zimmerman, lecturer1,
  2. Siân Oram, research degree student1,
  3. Rosilyne Borland, HIV and health promotion coordinator2,
  4. Charlotte Watts, professor1
  1. 1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. 2International Organization for Migration, CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland
  1. sian.oram{at}

    International guidance provides advice on safe and appropriate treatment

    In April 2009, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force in the United Kingdom.1 The convention requires the state to provide minimum standards of care, including medical services, to all people identified as “trafficked.” Meeting the needs and protecting the safety of such people can be a challenge for doctors.

    Human trafficking involves the movement of people by force, coercion, or deception into situations of exploitation.2 Trafficked persons are often subjected to physical violence, sexual abuse, psychological violence, and severe deprivation. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation receives the greatest attention, but men, women, and children are also trafficked and exploited in, for example, agriculture, construction, contract cleaning, and domestic service.3 Usually, trafficked persons agree to a job opportunity and are misled about their pay, work, conditions, or repayment obligations, and they find themselves in situations akin to “slavery.”4

    Globally, about 2.5 million people are estimated to be in situations of forced labour as a result of trafficking,3 …

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