It is with warm greetings during Winter 2021 that Healthcare for Justice writes this quarterly update. For those of you who participated, the HFJ Holiday Soiree was a huge success. Not only were we able to raise funds that go directly to providing free medical care to our patients, but it also raised awareness of our clinic and our mission. Therefore, we would like to give a warm welcome to all the new subscribers to our quarterly updates.
I personally have been so grateful for the meaningful conversations this awareness has initiated and more importantly the awareness that human trafficking is not something that happens far away from our every day lives, but literally in many of our own states and cities. With that being said, I’ve been approached by many asking for not only examples of what human trafficking looks like here in the US, but also resources for valid and factual information on human trafficking and what we can do to help end this atrocity. Especially when living in a day where social media accounts can make any claim they want to, I personally always feel it wise to be able to cite your advocacy with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. So I would like to highlight the following:
- For the US and your local state, I’d refer you to Polaris Project which keeps the most up-to-date information and publishes annual incidence rates. In 2019, there were 22,326 NEW cases of human trafficking reported to and identified through Polaris in the US.
- For worldwide burden, I’d refer you to the International Labor Organization which regularly keeps the most up-to-date accurate estimates of the global burden of human trafficking (most recent data is as of 2016 showing that human trafficking cases are almost equal to global cancer cases). You’d also be able to see that worldwide, labor trafficking is far more prevalent than sex trafficking.
- For those of you interested in learning more about what YOU can do to help beyond supporting our clinic and advocacy I’d refer you to the Actions website on the Polaris Project.
- What I think may be even more impactful given so much of our current economy is consumer based, we can use third party resources to vet the companies we are buying our products from to ensure we are not purchasing products that anywhere along the production line (from the raw materials to the final product) utilized forced or slave labor to make. I’d refer you to The Freedom Café or Good on You in order to investigate which corporations and brands are doing well or not so well in ensuring slavery or forced child labor is not used in the production chain.
In closing, I was meeting a new patient who was recently liberated from sex trafficking in clinic just a couple of days prior to writing this. This particular patient was establishing care with HFJ for medical needs and while the care she received was at face value a routine physical exam, deep down it really was so much more. She made a comment about how comfortable she felt and how it was nice to be listened to and treated like a fellow human with no significant time rush during the visit. I took it to mean that the visit was both a blessing to her and us. I am blessed to be there for people like her. And it wouldn’t be possible to provide this free care without your support. For that I want to say thank you.
Anthony Walls, MD and the HFJ Crew