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Pregnant victims of trafficking lack healthcare
March 09, 2018
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LONDON: Poor physical and mental care is putting pregnant trafficking victims in Britain at increased risk of health complications, trauma and extreme poverty, campaigners said on Thursday.

Nearly two in three trafficking victims who are pregnant - many as a result of rape - received no antenatal care before their third trimester, and a third had suicidal thoughts during pregnancy, according to a report by British charity Hestia.

“If you’ve been controlled for most of your life and have lost your sense of agency, then it’s incredibly difficult to trust someone and ask for help,” said Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, in a phone interview.

Ryan said health professionals needed help to identify trafficking victims, and those women needed priority access to antenatal care, more financial and housing support, and befriending programmes to tackle loneliness.

The report is based on the experiences of more than 140 pregnant women who are or have been victims of trafficking in London - 88 per cent were forced into prostitution and one in ten were exploited as maids in people’s homes.

It found that pregnant women did not access health services because they feared reprisals from their traffickers, or because the examinations prompted flashbacks.

In one instance a woman’s first antenatal appointment was so late that she went into labour during her first scan, it said.

Janet Fyle, the Royal College of Midwives’ lead on modern slavery, said pregnant trafficking victims were often “traumatised and in extremely poor physical and mental health, even before they reach Britain”.

Reuters
 

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