- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The news report “Human trafficking deterrence rapped” (Saturday, Web) notes the heart-wrenching hurdles that can prevent identification and rescue of victims of trafficking in persons, or modern-day slavery.

Captors often train their victims to fear law enforcement authorities as the enemy. They tell victims that reporting their plight will only result in deportation - a fear actually addressed by federal law that grants special visas to cooperating victims.

Captors threaten reprisals against victims’ family members as retaliation for reporting. Incredibly enough, victims can develop emotional dependence on their captors through what is known as the Stockholm syndrome.

Federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of State and the Department of Justice, are developing new strategies to overcome these obstacles to the identification, rescue and rehabilitation of victims. One of the most promising strategies includes educating health-care professionals to recognize, report and treat victims.

Few health-care professionals know how to recognize the signs of human trafficking among the patients they treat.

One study found that nearly one of three sex-trafficking victims had seen a health care professional during her captivity, yet tragically, not one had been reported and rescued as a result.

Medical groups such as the Christian Medical Association are offering continuing medical education courses to remedy this problem and raise awareness in the medical community.

Much more engagement is needed by medical specialty groups to educate the hundreds of thousands of professionals they represent.

The Bush administration can advance its landmark leadership to abolish human trafficking by raising the visibility of the problem among health-care professionals and others who may represent the victims’ only hope for rescue.

The president’s leadership in this effort is crucial, and his speaking out to encourage the engagement of health care professionals can help raise up an army of rescuers.

JONATHAN IMBODY

Vice president for government relations

Christian Medical Association (Washington Office)

Ashburn, Va.

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