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Needs of Female Survivors of Human Trafficking Detailed

Survivors require services to address post-trauma symptoms

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Female survivors of human trafficking commonly experience severe post-trauma symptoms and require assistance and adequate time for recovery before making decisions about legal action or returning to their home countries, researchers report in an article published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Cathy Zimmerman, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and colleagues interviewed 192 European women aged 15 to 45 who were victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and who were entering post-trafficking services. The investigators obtained data on rates of abuse, and physical and mental health status.

Ninety-five percent of the women reported physical or sexual violence while trafficked, and 59 reported pre-trafficking abuse. Physical symptoms were common, with 63 percent of women reporting more than 10 concurrent physical symptoms. Psychiatric symptoms of depression, anxiety and hostility were also common, and 57 percent were classified with probable post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The multiplicity and severity of symptoms indicate that trafficked women may not be capable of making rapid decisions about their safety. Granting trafficking survivors an adequate period of recovery and reflection (i.e. temporary legal residency with access to post-trafficking services) or asylum status might foster improvements in survivors' health and enable them to make considered decisions about their security and future well-being," the authors conclude.

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