Human trafficking and modern-day slavery are umbrella terms – often used interchangeably – that refer to the exploitation of individuals through threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, and/or deception. It includes the practices of forced labor, debt bondage, domestic servitude, forced marriage, sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers, among others. According to the ILO, the most common types of trafficking are forced labor – which includes sex trafficking – and forced marriage. Please see below for further information on specific types of trafficking.
More information on the various forms of human trafficking & modern-day slavery can be found here.
Forced labor is “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself of herself voluntarily.” Types of forced labor include, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, peonage, slavery, and sexual exploitation. The International Labor Organization estimates that 24.9 million people a year are subjected to forced labor – 16 million in private sector exploitation, 4 million in state sanctioned forced labor, and 4.8 million in sex trafficking.
- Debt bondage: Debt Bondage is a type of forced labor, involving a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time. The employer/enforcer artificially inflates the amount of debt, adds exorbitant interest, and/or charges for living expenses, deducting little or nothing from the debt and increasing the amount of time the individual must work. This results in a cycle of debt where there is no hope for freedom. Debt bondage is also known as peonage, debt slavery, or bonded labor.
- Involuntary Domestic Servitude:Involuntary servitude occurs when a domestic worker becomes ensnared in an exploitative situation they are unable to escape. Typically occurring in private homes, the individual is forced to work for little or no pay while confined to the boundaries of their employer’s property. These workers may endure such abuses as confiscation of travel documents; threats of arrest or deportation; isolation from family or any other type of support network; and subjection to psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
Resources for information on forced labor:
- International Labour Organization: Questions and answers on forced labour
Statistics on Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking
- Summary Report—Help Wanted: Hiring, Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery in Global Economy
- U.S. Department of State: Involuntary Domestic Servitude
- OSCE: Handbook – How to Prevent Human Trafficking for Domestic Servitude in Diplomatic Households and Protect Private Domestic Workers
Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation occurs in various settings, including (but not limited to) brothels, strip clubs, massage parlors, on the street (sometimes coined “track”), or in private homes. Individuals can be trafficked domestically and across international borders. According to the ILO, 4.8 million individuals are exploited for sex. Women and children are the most common victims found to be trafficked for sex. More recently, however, LGBT identifying individuals, especially transgender individuals, are increasingly found to be victims of sexual exploitation.
For More Information on Sex Trafficking:
Department of Health and Human Services: Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet
US Department of State: What is Modern Slavery?
Globally there are 168 million child laborers, over half of whom (85 million) are in hazardous work conditions. It is possible for minors, individuals below the age of 18, to participate in work that does not negatively affect their health, personal development, or schooling. However “child labor” frequently refers to work that does have a deleterious effect on children’s health, including depriving them of a childhood and reaching their potential. This work may be mentally or physically dangerous or harmful to children, or it may interfere with their schooling. As children are more easily manipulated and require fewer resources to survive, the use of child labor increases with poverty, globalization, and the demand for cheap labor.
More extreme forms of child labor include enslavement and trafficking. Children may be abducted, sacrificed for the betterment of the family, or promised an education by their trafficker. They are trafficked into domestic work, sexual exploitation, hazardous child labor, begging, and other illegal activities such as stealing, illegal adoption, or early marriage, or used as child soldiers.
For a better understanding of the exploitation of children and what you can do about it:
World Report on Child Labour
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Trafficking involves the exploitation of a child for sex by an adult, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties. CSEC does not require the presence of force, fraud, or coercion; rather, any form of sexual exploitation, ranging from sexual favors to commercial sexual exploitation, are considered CSEC. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.
For More Information on CSEC:
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Child Sexual Exploitation
There are hundreds of thousands of child soldiers worldwide. Child soldiers are defined as individuals below the age of 18 who are, or have been, recruited or used by armed forces or groups in any capacity. The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes. Perpetrators not only include rebel groups, but also government forces and paramilitary organizations. Child soldiers endure extreme psychological and physiological damage, making reintegration into their communities and life in general very difficult.
For a more information on child soldiers: