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Journal Article


Tsai C, Dichter ME. Child Abuse Rev. 2019; 28(3): 198-208.


(Copyright © 2019, John Wiley and Sons)






This review focuses on the literature on child trafficking in the Greater Mekong Region (GMR) in the last decade, as an update to Rafferty's (2007) review. The research is primarily organised into several main themes: public health implications, the trafficking of boys, cross-border trafficking, the changing context and venues in which trafficking occurs, and trafficking in lesser-studied regions of the GMR. The research reveals that children who are trafficked experience physical symptoms of abuse, sexually transmitted infections, mental health sequelae and substance abuse. Emerging research on the trafficking of boys elucidates relevant cultural issues, describing exploitation in street-based and establishment-based venues. Recent work describing children who are exploited in the Thai-Cambodian border region reveals economic depression as a driver for migration into the area and high rates of violence. The literature also describes a shift in trafficking venues in Cambodia from brothels to entertainment venues. Much of the research to date has been conducted in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, and there is preliminary research from the Lao People's Democratic Republic, but much remains unknown about trafficking in other GMR countries. Further research is required to identify the interactions of trafficked children in the GMR with healthcare settings, and, more specifically, to understand the medical implications of trafficking. 'This review focuses on the literature on child trafficking in the Greater Mekong Region in the last decade, as an update to Rafferty's (2007) review' Key Practitioner Messages Children trafficked in the GMR experience health consequences as a result of exploitation. Venues for trafficking in the GMR are shifting from brothels to off-site and entertainment venues as a consequence of governments and local authorities increasing legal enforcement. Boys in the GMR are vulnerable to trafficking. Children who migrate for work in the GMR are vulnerable to trafficking. A trauma-informed approach and a heightened level of awareness for a history of trafficking are important for practitioners caring for patients from the GMR.

Keywords: Human trafficking

Language: en


child sexual exploitation; child trafficking; Greater Mekong Region; narrative review


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