The Prostitution and Trafficking of American Indian/Alaska Native Women in Minnesota

Abstract

We examined social and physical violence experienced by American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women in prostitution and their impacts on the mental and physical health of 105 women (81% Anishinaabe, mean age = 35 years) recruited through service agencies in three Minnesota cities. In childhood, abuse, foster care, arrests, and prostitution were typical. Homelessness, rape, assault, racism, and pimping were common. The women’s most prevalent physical symptoms included muscle pain, impaired memory or concentration, and headaches. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociation were common, with more severe psychological symptoms associated with worse health. Most of the women wanted to leave prostitution and they most often identified counseling and peer support as necessary to accomplish this. Most saw colonization and prostitution of AI/AN women as connected.

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