Andrea Nichols, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at St. Louis Community College, Forest Park and regularly teaches the course “Sex Trafficking” as Lecturer for Washington University in St. Louis. She has published multiple books and peer reviewed journal articles in the area of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
Erin Heil, Ph.D., is Criminal Justice Professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She has published multiple books and peer reviewed journal articles in the area of human trafficking.
The current academic discourse examining human trafficking is lacking in focus on survivors with a disability. The increased likelihood of abuse experienced by people with a disability is well documented in the research literature, and a small body of research indicates heightened sex trafficking victimization of minor girls with a disability. Yet, very little research specifically examines sex and/or labor trafficking of people with a disability, and no systematic research analyzes prosecuted cases of trafficking with disability as the focal point of analysis. Drawing from a content analysis of 18 federal and 17 state cases of human trafficking, the current study specifically aimed to increase our understandings of sex and labor trafficking involving survivors with a disability. The findings revealed the following patterns and themes: 1) the type of trafficking experienced (sex, labor, or both), 2) whether state level or federal cases 3) the types of disabilities identified among trafficking survivors, 4) the nature of the relationship between traffickers and survivors, 5) methods of recruitment, 6) case outcomes; and 7) demographic characteristics of traffickers and survivors (e.g., gender/citizenship). Implications include prevention efforts in the form of developmentally grounded sex education and healthy relationships curriculum for survivors with an intellectual disability, as well as specialized anti-trafficking training for those in legal, healthcare, and social services that is inclusive of people with a disability.
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Nichols, Andrea and Heil, Erin (2022) "Human Trafficking of People with a Disability: An Analysis of State and Federal Cases," Dignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 7: Iss. 1, Article 1. https://doi.org/10.23860/dignity.2022.07.01.01
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