Labour trafficking: Challenges and opportunities from an occupational health perspective
Labour trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals are recruited or transported to perform labour or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion and under the threat of some kind of penalty. In addition, the person has not offered himself/herself voluntarily for the activity in question. The International Labour Organization (ILO) uses the expression ‘forced labour’ instead of the word ‘trafficking’ and estimates that 25 million people are victims of forced labour . This represents about 5.4 out of every 1,000 people globally. Approximately 90% are exploited by private individuals and enterprises. While in the past the ILO focused narrowly on sex trafficking, recently more attention has been paid to a broader range of sectors and circumstances in which forced labour may take place . Global assessments suggest that a substantial proportion of labour migrants end up in situations of extreme exploitation, some of which are formally identified as human trafficking [2,3]. These problems can occur in any country, though the relative magnitude of the problem in different countries is not clear. The workers involved represent both genders  and come from different geographic regions including Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, in addition to other parts of the European Union .
Current approaches to addressing human trafficking have been developed through the work of Zimmerman  and Dowling . Inclusion of a health perspective—and an occupational health perspective in particular—can contribute to addressing the problem. With additional knowledge and awareness of the relationship between work and health, health professionals will be better equipped to identify and treat specific health problems among trafficked workers. Development of appropriate policies and regulations within the health sector is also needed.
This article aims to describe the occupational health perspective and approach to addressing human trafficking.
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