Global Health Promise was founded in 2007. Its mission is to address the needs of mothers who are trafficked or in prostitution/sex work and their children.
Based on available data we estimate there are 39 million mothers who are trafficked or in prostitution and their children globally. While these mothers and children are often hidden, together they would equal the population of Poland, the 36th most populous country in the world.
The situation of these mothers and their children is a critical health issue. To address their health needs we have three primarily activities: research, programs, and advocacy.
(1) Research: Most research on trafficking and prostitution focus on HIV but more women in these situations will become pregnant and give birth than will be infected with HIV. However there are few data or studies on their health while pregnant or when they give birth. Our research has found that many of these women experience barriers to safe prenatal care and delivery services, which increases their risk of maternal mortality. In 2016 we published the first ever study on maternal mortality among these women.
Children whose mothers are trafficked or in prostitution also face serious risks to their health and safety but there is likewise little awareness of the health problems they experience. In a study of the health problems of these children in the U.S. we found they were at risk for birth defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and many were subjected to physical and sexual abuse that resulted in death among some of these children.
We have also documented a very significant risk to these daughters: a very high percentage are trafficked into prostitution. In a study we conducted in Bangladesh, sex workers reported 100% of their daughters are trafficked, while in the U.S. the median estimate of the percentage of daughters who are trafficked was 50%.
(2) Services: In 2007 we founded “Our Mother’s House” in Portland, Oregon. This is the only known program specifically designed to address the unmet needs of women who are trafficked or in prostitution who become pregnant, or who are mothers, and for their children.
(3) Advocacy: We use our research and experience operating Our Mother’s House to raise awareness about the situation of mothers who are trafficked or in prostitution and their children through writing commentaries, discussions with other nonprofit organizations, and presentations.