PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS INCREASING THE RISK FOR ADOLESCENT GIRLS TO BECOME VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW

Kristina Vrubliauskaitė

Abstract


Most of the research on the risk for minors to become victims of human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation up till recently focused on socioeconomic, psychosocial and demographic factors. As findings suggest, these characteristics have different impact across different cultures, regions, etc., thus scholars are starting to raise the question on their differen timpact on individual level. They notice that, in the presence of particular combination of characteristics, adolescent girls do not always become victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and some girls who are considered to be victims do not see themselves as victims of sexual exploitation. The aim of this article is to systematically overview psychological factors found through research, that are associated with the risk of becoming a victim of human trafficking. The systematic review focuses on commercial sexual exploitation of minors, particularly, girls, as the most prevalent form of human trafficking. Criteria for article selection include language of the article, the scope and methodology of the research done, sex of the participants of the research, age of being trafficked, and nature of risk factors analysed in the article. Final analysis comprised of six articles. The results show that risk of becoming victim of commercial sexual exploitation is linked with such psychological factors as low self-esteem, denigration of sexual self and others, dysfunctional attachment models, learned maladaptive problem solving strategies, and post-traumatic stress disorder, lack of reflecting abilities, etc. These psychological characteristics may emerge after traumatic experiences such as loss, sexual abuse in childhood, multiple placements in foster care or maltreatment of the child, and later lead into risky behaviours like running away from homes, living on the streets, which increase risk of their exploitation. Results and future research suggestions are discussed.

Keywords


psychological risk factors, human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, female, adolescents, thinking patterns, attitudes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13165/SD-18-16-1-10

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789