This item has been filed in | Freeze Frame, News
Print This Post Print This Post

Conference Organized by Miller School Student Addresses Growing Problem of Human Trafficking

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

    By Robert C. Jones Jr.
    UM News

    Miller School of Medicine student Juhi Jain addresses an audience of medical professionals and law enforcement personnel attending the "Human Trafficking: An Emerging Epidemic" symposium.

    Miller School of Medicine student Juhi Jain addresses an audience of medical professionals and law enforcement personnel attending the “Human Trafficking: An Emerging Epidemic” symposium.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 23, 2015) – A woman brought to the United States at the age of 16 and forced to work as a prostitute for 12 years, servicing multiple johns a day just to stay alive. An old woman neighbors would see using a garden hose to take showers outside. An 18-year-old who called police, pleading to be rescued from an abusive pimp.

    Those were just some of the alarming human trafficking cases in Florida that dozens of physicians, nurses, social workers, and law enforcement officers heard about on Friday during the “Human Trafficking: An Emerging Epidemic” conference organized by Miller School students. Held at the University of Miami’s Student Activities Center, the daylong symposium was aimed at educating first responders about the growing problem of the illicit trade in humans for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sex—and, in some cases, even the extraction of organs.

    Human trafficking is not a discriminatory problem, explained Juhi Jain, a fourth-year Miller School student who applied for and received a grant from the Arsht Ethics Initiatives of the UM Ethics Programs to stage the conference. “It affects all ethnicities,” she said in her opening remarks, noting that American citizens are just as likely as immigrants to be victims of human trafficking.

    But whoever the victims may be, they all have little choice in what happens to them and are denied inherent rights all people are born with, Jain said. Traffickers use threats, intimidation, emotional and physical abuse, and in some cases drugs to wield control over their victims, who often suffer dire health complications—from pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections to drug addiction and psychiatric disorders, Jain told conference attendees. HIV rates among trafficked victims, especially young girls working in brothels, are extremely high, she revealed.

    A student in the Miller School’s Pathway in Health Law, Jain shared some alarming statistics on the $32 billion-a-year criminal enterprise. Among them: an estimated 80 percent of internationally trafficked victims are female, and the average age of a girl trafficked into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old.

    Jain first became aware of how serious the human trafficking problem is about two years ago, when some of her fellow Miller School students told her about two victims who showed up at the UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital emergency room for medical treatment. It was then that Jain consulted with two of her mentors—Panagiota “Pat” Caralis, M.D., J.D., professor of medicine, and Edwin Olsen, M.D., M.B.A., J.D., professor of clinical psychiatry—who persuaded her to do more research on the issue, specifically the medical and legal aspects of the problem and how to identify and aid victims.

    At Friday’s conference, Victor Williams, special agent at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, informed medical and law enforcement personnel about the signs they should look for when they suspect a case of human trafficking. He and Jain also provided information on resources—such as the phone number to Polaris (888-373-7888), a nonprofit that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking—at their disposal.


    Comments are closed.

    • Related Stories
    • Tags
    • Popular
    • Subscribe
    • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
      Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

      You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

    UM Facebook

    UM Twitter