Human Trafficking: Pregnancy, Morbidity & Mortality

Samantha Nightingale, Lorna O'Doherty, Geraldine Brady, Diane Phimister

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Nightingale, S. O’Doherty, L. Brady, G. Phimster, D. Human trafficking is a gross violation of human rights that often involves extreme forms of abuse and exploitation (Kiss Human trafficking and other forms of extreme exploitation are encompassed under the terminology of modern slavery. Estimates suggest human trafficking effects 40 million people globally, of whom 29 million are in situations of forced labour and 15 million experience forced marriages; 5 million are in forced sexual exploitation, which disproportionately affects woman and girls (International Labour Organization 2017) Victims of human trafficking face many health issues because of exploitation, and the conditions in which they live. These include physical and mental health issues, as well as the use of drugs and alcohol to control victims, or as a coping method used by victims themselves. Victims of human trafficking in the UK are often denied access to healthcare, including maternity care, or access care late in pregnancy, exacerbating the detrimental effects of health problems (Bick 2017). Of the women who died in pregnancy or up to a year postnatally between 2013-2015 in the UK and Ireland, two thirds had pre-existing physical or mental health problems (MBRRACE-UK 2017). The goal of my research is to inform efforts to reduce the number of avoidable poor outcomes for mums & babies following human trafficking. I am undertaking a Systematic Review which involves identification, synthesis and evaluation of all eligible national and international studies, to determine the impact of human trafficking with sexual violence on the health and wellbeing of women and their babies. Currently, there is a lack of understanding around the complex relationship between trafficking, exploitation, sexual violence and pregnancy, and the resulting health of mothers and their babies. The finding of this review will contribute to educating and informing healthcare professionals on how to more effectively recognise and support survivors. References: Bick D, Howard LM, Oram S, Zimmerman C (2017) Maternity care for trafficked women: Survivor experiences and clinicians’ perspectives in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. PLoS ONE12(11): e0187856. Kiss, L., Pocock, N. S., Naisanguansri, V., Suos, S., Dickson, B., Thuy, D., Koehler, J., Sirisup, K., Pongrungsee, N., Nguyen, V. A., Borland, R., Dhavan, P., and Zimmerman, C. (2015) 'Health of Men, Women, and Children in Post-Trafficking Services in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam: An Observational Cross-Sectional Study'. The Lancet Global Health 3 (3), e161 International Labour Organization 2017 MBRRACE-UK (2017) Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018
EventMidlands Maternity and Midwifery Festival 2018: Maternity & Midwifery Forum - Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Apr 201825 Apr 2018


ConferenceMidlands Maternity and Midwifery Festival 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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