Utah Attorney General’s Office to Host Human Trafficking Survivor & Healthcare Provider Focus Groups

Victims of human trafficking often go unnoticed and the crime unreported, despite interactions with various types of healthcare providers. In an effort to build awareness of human trafficking among prosecutors, investigators and Utah’s health care community, the Utah Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force will host two focus groups involving healthcare providers and human trafficking survivors on January 27, 2016.

The Utah focus group session results will add Utah statistics to a national study underway that will support policy and program recommendations for healthcare providers to enhance their roles as identifiers of trafficking victims.

The Health Consequences of Human Trafficking and their Implications for Health Care Providers is a national study undertaken by Global Centurion Foundation President Laura Lederer, J.D., a subject matter expert on human trafficking for several U.S. government agencies. The study interviewed 107 sex trafficking survivors in 11 cities across the U.S., and found 99.1 percent had physical health problems and 98 percent had mental health problems. The study also found that 87.8 percent had contact with a health care provider while they were trafficked.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and the Office of the Utah Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, along with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), also plan to host a tuition-free, one and one-half day training for prosecutors and investigators on human trafficking; the training will take place on January 28 and 29.

“This study humanizes victim suffering, and provides common physical and mental health symptoms and other warning signs that can assist medical professionals in recognizing possible trafficking victims,” explained Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “It also provides recommendations for new policy and programs, including training for health care providers, and suggestions for referral and reporting to help these victims of modern day slavery obtain broader criminal justice assistance.”

According to Lederer, “The hope is that this national study and the training that will come from it will enable prevention and improve interaction between healthcare providers and law enforcement to bring more perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.”

Kathy Franchek, assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Laura Lederer will lead the two focus groups scheduled to take place on January 27 at the Salt Lake County Government Center, located at 2001 South State Street in Salt Lake City.