Minor sex trafficking of girls with disabilities

Hannabeth Franchino-Olsen*, Hannah A. Silverstein, Nicole F. Kahn, Sandra L. Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the associations between minor women’ (girls’) disability status and victimization via minor sex trafficking.

Design/methodology/approach: This investigation used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a large, nationally-representative sample of in-school adolescents in the USA that began in 1994. The analysis included bivariate associations between physical disability status or low cognitive ability and minor sex trafficking among female survey respondents (n = 5,430).

Findings: Girls with any disability had a higher prevalence of minor sex trafficking than their peers without disabilities. Odds of minor sex trafficking were significantly higher for those with severe physical disabilities (5.83) and for those with low cognitive abilities (4.86) compared to the odds of their peers without their respective disabilities. Results for girls with mild or moderate physical disabilities were not statistically significant compared to peers without disabilities.

Social implications: These nationally-representative survey data reinforce the trends present in smaller populations and case study research: female adolescents with disabilities are at a heightened risk for sex trafficking. On both a national and global scale, the human rights gaps in policy and practice must be addressed to adequately reach, intervene and protect this vulnerable population.

Originality/value: Research about minor sex trafficking typically relies on small-scale surveys and/or convenience samples. This study used a nationally-representative survey to demonstrate the link between disability status and women’s experiences with minor sex trafficking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • add health
  • adolescent
  • disability
  • female
  • girl
  • intellectual
  • minor
  • physical
  • sexual exploitation


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