Optometrists are the first line of defense against many major health problems, including diabetes, cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and refractive errors. They may also be the only professionals to interact with human trafficking victims while they are still in captivity.
Human trafficking is among the world’s fastest growing businesses, estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global industry, according to the State of California Department of Justice.1 As healthcare providers, ODs and their staff should know how to spot human trafficking and report its victims; doing so has the potential to save lives.
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Human resources (HR) executive Jason DeMayo, MBA, discussed human trafficking in a presentation at the 2020 Southeastern Educational Congress of Optometry (SECO) conference. During his talk, he covered the definitions of human trafficking, labor trafficking and smuggling; discussed the current, global scale of operations; and relayed how it affects practitioners.
Human trafficking is the business of stealing one’s freedom for the profit of another. It is the exploitation of another person for labor, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual activity by force, fraud, or coercion, according to the federal burau of investigation.2
“If you have a patient in your office who is showing symptoms of STDs and abuse, then chances are that that person is involved in human trafficking in some form,” Mr. DeMayo says.
1. State of California Department of Justice. Human Trafficking. Available at: https://oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking. Accessed 3/9/20.
2. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Human Trafficking. Available at: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/human-trafficking. Accessed 3/9/20.