Abstract – Sex trafficking and health care in Metro Manila: Identifying social determinants to inform an effective health system response

Timothy P. Williams, Elaine J. Alpert, Roy Ahn, Elizabeth Cafferty, Wendy Macias Konstantopoulos, Nadya Wolferstan, Judith Palmer Castor, Anita M. McGahan, and Thomas F. Burke

Health and Human Rights 12/2

Published December 2010


This social science case study examines the sex trafficking of women and girls in Metro Manila through a public health lens. Through key informant interviews with 51 health care and anti-trafficking stakeholders in Metro Manila, this study reports on observations about sex trafficking in Metro Manila that provide insight into understanding of risk factors for sex trafficking at multiple levels of the social environment: individual (for example, childhood abuse), socio-cultural (for example, gender inequality and a “culture of migration”), and macro (for example, profound poverty caused, inter alia, by environmental degradation disrupting traditional forms of labor). It describes how local health systems currently assist sex-trafficking victims, and provides a series of recommendations, ranging from prevention to policy, for how health care might play a larger role in promoting the health and human rights of this vulnerable population.