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“Praying for freedom”: a story of labor trafficking during pregnancy

Published:January 21, 2023DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2023.100873
      Given the scant literature and data that exist on labor trafficking in general, obstetricians and gynecologists have very limited awareness of the effect of pregnancy on individuals affected by labor trafficking. Labor trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel an individual to provide a service. Our current understanding of this topic lacks the narratives of survivors who have lived experiences with this intersection. This study presented the story of a labor-trafficked person navigating the healthcare system throughout her pregnancy to shed light on an important presentation of labor trafficking in women's healthcare settings. The insufficient attention afforded to and the stereotypical views of labor trafficking do not often include the experiences of pregnant women. Therefore, presenting examples of labor trafficking, such as in this case study, are important to combat implicit structural and institutional biases that interfere with survivor identification. In addition to sharing one survivor's story, this article presents a trauma-informed approach to setting up socioculturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, and inherently empowering conversations within healthcare settings to assess for exploitation and connect victims to resources. This case and framework are very important for obstetrician-gynecologists as they are uniquely positioned to screen and care for pregnant labor-trafficked people. Given the well-described “dual exploitation” of those experiencing intimate partner abuse and trafficking, clinical settings that focus on women's health and reproductive healthcare are important touchpoints for the identification, resource coordination, and management of pregnant-trafficked people.

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