What We Know

Educating yourself about what trafficking is, and how to spot it, are the first steps in the fight to stop human trafficking

Spotting Human Trafficking

You probably see people who are in slavery on a regular basis. Hidden in plain sight they don’t have shackles, they might appear ordinary, but look closer and you might spot more worrying traits. What are the signs of slavery? Here are few signs to look out for.
  • Labor trafficking includes situations where men, women, and children are forced to work because of debt, immigration status, threats and violence. Keeping victims isolated — physically or emotionally — is a key method of control in most labor trafficking situations. But that does not mean you never cross paths with someone who is experiencing trafficking. Someone may be experiencing labor trafficking or exploitation if they:

    • Feel pressured by their employer to stay in a job or situation they want to leave
    • Owe money to an employer or recruiter or are not being paid what they were promised or are owed
    • Do not have control of their passport or other identity documents
    • Are living and working in isolated conditions, largely cut off from interaction with others or support systems
    • Appear to be monitored by another person when talking or interacting with others
    • Are being threatened by their boss with deportation or other harm
    • Are working in dangerous conditions without proper safety gear, training, adequate breaks, or other protections
    • Are living in dangerous, overcrowded, or inhumane conditions provided by an employer
  • Sex trafficking occurs when individuals are made to perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Any child under 18 who is involved in commercial sex is legally a victim of trafficking, regardless of whether there is a third party involved. Someone may be experiencing sex trafficking if they:

    • Want to stop participating in commercial sex but feel scared or unable to leave the situation.
    • Disclose that they were reluctant to engage in commercial sex but that someone pressured them into it.
    • Live where they work or are transported by guards between home and workplace.
    • Are children who live with or are dependent on a family member with a substance use problem or who is abusive.
    • Have a “pimp” or “manager” in the commercial sex industry.
    • Work in an industry where it may be common to be pressured into performing sex acts for money, such as a strip club, illicit cantina, go-go bar, or illicit massage business.
    • Have a controlling parent, guardian, romantic partner, or “sponsor” who will not allow them to meet or speak with anyone alone or who monitors their movements, spending, or communications.

Trafficking for forced labor

Forced labor is any work or service which people are forced to do against their will, under threat of punishment. Almost all slavery practices contain some element of forced labor. It affects millions of men, women and children around the world. It is most often found in industries with a lot of workers and little regulation.

These include:

  • Agriculture and fishing
  • Domestic work
  • Construction, mining, quarrying and brick kilns
  • Manufacturing, processing and packaging
  • Prostitution and sexual exploitation
  • Market trading and illegal activities
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Forced labor is the most common element of modern slavery. It is the most extreme form of exploitation of people. Forced labor often affects the most vulnerable and excluded groups, for example commonly migrant workers are targeted because they often don’t speak the language, have few friends, have limited rights and depend on their employers.

Child Slavery:

Childhood should be a magical time to learn, grow, play. But, an estimated 10 million children around the world don’t have that chance. Unfortunately many find themselves waking up up each day trapped in the nightmare of modern slavery.
Childhood Innocence

Common forms of slavery of children

  • Children used by others for profit in prostitution, pornography, or other forms of sexual exploitation
  • Children forced into begging, petty crime or the drug trade.
  • Forced labor, for example in agriculture, factories, construction, brick kilns, mines, bars, tourist industry or in private homes.
  • Children forced to marry. When a child doesn’t consent to a marriage, (or doesn’t fully understand consent), is exploited within their marriage, or is not able to leave, that child is in slavery.

Common Trafficking Recruitment Strategies

  • Love

    The trafficker pretends to create a romance with the victim. A positive future is painted of their live together until the individual is forced to sell him or herself to finance a future purchase, e.g. a house.
  • Poverty

    Trafficker befriends a person and buys their target gifts and takes them places, until later the victim is told that they must repay the accumulated debt.
  • Addiction

    One way young people end up homeless is through addiction. Narcotics suppliers will often take them in for a while, with the promise of shelter and security. In turn, to repay the traffickers, victims are forced into a life of prostitution and suffering.
  • Violence

    A brutal trafficker puts a young person on the street for the sole purpose of making a profit. Servitude is forced by threatening the victim’s life and the lives of family members and loved ones.
  • Authority Figure

    Often it is trusted family members or authority figures such as guardians and other care givers that force victims into a life of prostitution and servitude.
Trafficking for Forced Criminal Activities
This form of trafficking allows criminal networks to reap the profits of a variety of illicit activities without the risk. Victims are forced to carry out a range of illegal activities, which in turn generate income. These can include theft, drug cultivation, selling counterfeit goods, or forced begging. Victims often have quotas and can face severe punishment if they do not perform adequately.
Trafficking for the removal of organs
In many countries, waiting lists for transplants are very long, and criminals have seized this opportunity to exploit the desperation of patients and potential donors. The health of victims, even their lives, is at risk as operations may be carried out in clandestine conditions with no medical follow-up. An ageing population and increased incidence of diabetes in many developed countries is likely to increase the requirement for organ transplants and make this crime even more lucrative.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation
This prevalent form of trafficking affects every region in the world, either as a source, transit or destination country. Women, men and children from developing countries, and from vulnerable parts of society in developed countries, are lured by promises of decent employment into leaving their homes and travelling to what they consider will be a better life. Victims are often provided with false travel documents and an organized network is used to transport them to the destination country, where they find themselves forced into sexual exploitation and held in inhumane conditions and constant terror. Many people are lured into a false sense of a better life, some are taken against their will.

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