Sexual Exploitation of Very Young Hmong Girls

Laurel Edinburgh, Elizabeth Saewyc, Tru Thao, Carolyn Levitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Recent increases in Hmong girls referred to a Midwest hospital-based child advocacy center prompted this comparison of abuse experiences for Hmong extra-familial sexual abuse cases versus peers. Methods: Retrospective chart review of all girls, aged 10 to 14 years, with extra-familial sexual abuse 1998-2003 (n = 226). Fourteen percent of cases were Hmong (n = 32). Demographics, risk behaviors, abuse experiences, physical findings and legal outcomes were compared for Hmong (H) and Other (O) girls using chi-square. Multivariate logistic regressions explored differences in gynecologic findings and sexually transmitted disease (STD) results. Results: Hmong girls were more likely to be runaways (90% H vs. 8% O), truant (97% H vs. 13% O), self-mutilating (38% H vs. 10% O), and suicidal (41% H vs. 21% O). Seventy-seven percent of Hmong reported gang rape, prostitution, or multiple assaults versus 16% Others; most had 5+ perpetrators (69% H vs. 2% O) and 5+ assaults (75% H vs. 24% O, both p < .001). Gynecologic findings were more prevalent among Hmong girls (63% H vs. 21% O). Controlling for penetration, number of partners/assaults, and acuity at examination, Hmong ethnicity predicted gynecologic findings (adjusted odds ration [AOR] = 6.57). Hmong girls were more likely to have a positive chlamydia screen (36% H vs. 4% O, p < .001), but only number of perpetrators was an independent predictor (AOR = 15.09). Most cases were prosecuted, but Hmong had higher prosecution rates (83% H vs. 57% O, p < .001). Conclusions: Hmong girl assault experiences were markedly more severe than peers. Health care providers need appropriate knowledge of Hmong culture to conduct forensic examinations. Abused Hmong girls need culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate after-care that helps connect them back with families and school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by a grant from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, British Columbia, Canada, and by the Center for Adolescent Nursing, University of Minnesota School of Nursing. Preliminary results of this study were presented at the San Diego Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, January 25, 2005. Thanks to Jennifer Cameron for manuscript formatting assistance. The authors wish to acknowledge the many agencies that participate in the Hmong Youth Task Force of Ramsey County, for providing information on the cultural and social contexts in which the Hmong live in Ramsey County, and for the many creative ways they have already drawn from this research to enhance our collaboration and inform the Task Force’s interventions.


  • Abuse sequelae
  • Extra-familial sexual abuse
  • Forensic examination of sexual abuse
  • Gang rape
  • Hmong adolescents
  • Sexual assault
  • Teen prostitution
  • Videocolposcopic findings of gynecologic trauma


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