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Zulekha

There are an estimated 15,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United Arab Emirates which acts as a destination and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Foreign workers recruited globally account for over 95% of the country’s private workforce. Some are subjected to practices indicative to trafficking such as passport retention, non-payment of wages and substandard food and housing. Women travelling willingly to the UAE to work as domestic workers, massage therapists, beauticians, hotel cleaners, or elsewhere in the service sector, are sometimes subjected to forced labour or sex trafficking after arrival.  Zulekha worked in a garment factory before leaving for Dubai in March 2001. She was 20 years old and unmarried. Though she had heard about the risks of girls being trafficked from Bangladesh, Zulekha chose to migrate anyway. Upon arrival she was taken to a house and provided a good meal. However, the next day Zulekha was taken to a hotel and forced to provide sexual services to men for 2 months. After this time Zulekha became pregnant and her broker sent her back to Bangladesh. 

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Zoey

There are an estimated 17,000 people living in conditions of slavery in Canada (GSI 2018). Both Canadian and foreign citizens are exploited in forced labour and sex trafficking. Forced labour affects migrant workers under ‘low-skilled’ temporary visa streams including the low-wage and primary agricultural streams. These workers are often in restaurants, hotels, agriculture, food preparation, construction or domestic work. Sexual exploitation of Canadian citizens is the most common form of slavery detected by authorities in the country, with 93% of sex trafficking victims being Canadian.  Zoey* talks about her experience of being trafficked for sexual exploitation.

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Zinab

ISIS has singled out the Yazidi minority, notably its women and children, for particularly brutal treatment. In August 2014, ISIS fighters abducted hundreds, possibly thousands, of Yezidi men, women and children who were fleeing the IS takeover from the Sinjar region, in the north-west of the country. Hundreds of the men were killed and others were forced to convert to Islam under threat of death. Younger women and girls, some as young as 12, were separated from their parents and older relatives and sold, given as gifts or forced to marry ISIS fighters and supporters. Zinab and her children were kidnapped by ISIS from her village. She was taken to Syria and sold four times, subjected to sexual violence and forced religious conversion. Zinab used a smuggling network to escape Syria after 20 months.

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Zamira

Born in Albania, Zamira was trafficked into Belgium, where by some estimates Albanian girls aged 14 and 15 make up nearly half of the foreign women forced into prostitution. Many women are trafficked into richer Western European countries from the poorer Eastern countries, including Albania. The fall of communism in 1991 led to a rise in organized crime in Albania: in 2001 it was estimated 100,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries in the preceding ten years. More than 65 percent of Albanian sex-trafficking victims are minors at the time they are trafficked, and at least 50 percent of victims leave home under the false impression that they will be married or engaged to an Albanian or foreigner and live abroad. Another ten percent are kidnapped or forced into prostitution. The women and girls receive little or no pay for their work, and are commonly tortured if they do not comply.

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Ying B.

Ying was forced into prostitution after she was trafficked to France, and then to the UK. She was able to escape and was helped by Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), a support service in Scotland for trafficking survivors. The majority of those trafficked to the UK have been identified victims of sexual exploitation, followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation.

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Yejide

There are an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery in Nigeria (GSI 2018). Since 2009, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist insurgent movement, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is Forbidden,” has waged a violent campaign against the Nigerian government in its bid to impose Islamic law. The attacks have increasingly targeted civilians, mainly in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Borno State, the birthplace of Boko Haram, has suffered the highest number of attacks. A range of issues, including widespread poverty, corruption, security force abuse, and longstanding impunity for a range of crimes have created fertile ground in Nigeria for militant armed groups like Boko Haram.In some cases, women and children are abducted from predominantly Christian areas and forced to convert to Islam. These abductions took place most often in Boko Haram’s then-strongholds of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, or Damaturu, the capital of neighboring Yobe State. In most of the documented cases, married women were abducted as punishment for not supporting the group’s ideology, while unmarried women and girls were taken as brides after insurgents hastily offered a dowry to the families, who feared to resist. 18-year-old Yejide* was not yet married when a Boko Haram combatant sexually abused her when she went to use the bathroom.

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YB

There are an estimated 31,000 people living in condition of modern slavery in Israel (GSI 2018). Women from Eastern Europe, China and Ghana, as well as Eritream men and women are subjected to sex trafficking in Israel. People are often lured through the promise of seemingly legitimate jobs, only to be subjected to commercial sexual exploitation upon arrival.  YB was promised a job as a dancer in Israel. Here she tells of her experience of being trafficked across the Egyptian/Israeli boarder.

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Xuan

Malaysia is a destination and, to a much lesser extent, source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and women and children subjected to sex trafficking. The overwhelming majority of trafficking victims are among the estimated two million documented and an even greater number of undocumented migrant laborers in Malaysia. Foreign workers constitute more than 20 percent of the Malaysian workforce and typically migrate voluntarily—often illegally—to Malaysia from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries, mostly in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are subjected to forced labour or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labour recruiters when they are unable to pay the fees for recruitment and associated travel.    Xuan had fallen in to debt when he cousin told her she could get her a job in the country as a masseuse. However, upon arrival Xuan was forced to do sex work to pay off debts incurred from air fares and travel expenses. After getting a phone call informing her that he child was ill Xuan escaped, jumping from the third floor of the building where she was being kept.  

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Witness A

There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery in the United Kingdom (Global Slavery Index 2018). According to the 2017 annual figures provided by the National Crime Agency, 5, 145 potential victims of modern slavery were referred through the National Referral Mechanism in 2017, of whom 2,454 were female, 2688 were male and 3 were transgender, with 41% of all referrals being children at the time of exploitation. People are subjected to slavery in the UK in the form of domestic servitude, labour exploitation, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation, with the largest number of potential victims originating from Albania, China, Vietnam and Nigeria. This data however does not consider the unknown numbers of victims that are not reported. Witness A was trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in the UK as a minor. Witness A tells of the numerous organisations and agencies who failed to recognise that she had been trafficked, resulting in her continued exploitation. Subjected to sexual and physical violence, Witness A often found herself in contact with A&E, the police and child services who did not help her escape her exploiters and, on occasion, placed the blame upon herself. Witness A states that it was not until she reached out to the Salvation Army that she was able to escape her exploitation and was placed in a safehouse. However, Witness A talks about the lack of support available even after she was rescued from her traffickers.

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Withelma

Withelma Ortiz Walker Pettigrew grew up in the U.S. foster care system. Between the ages of 10 to 17 she was subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in Oakland, California, on the streets and in strip clubs and massage parlours. She now serves on the boards of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), and the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council, and is a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She founded the Still Alive Initiative in 2009, which provides mentoring and counseling for survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, and consulting and training for government agencies, institutions, and nonprofits on youth policy and service provision.

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Wendy

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Wendy Barnes was trafficked from the age of 15 across the US West Coast for nearly 15 years, from the mid 1980s until 2000. Her trafficker, Gregory Leon Hightower, was eventually arrested and sentenced to life in prison in Oregon. Wendy now lives in Southern California and works full time as a customer service representative. Her narrative is from an interview with Francine Sporenda for the Révolution Féministe website, originally published in French and then in English by Nordic Model Now!, a UK secular, feminist, grassroots women’s group campaigning for the abolition of prostitution and related practices. Wendy has published a book about her experiences titled And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom (2015).

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Victoire

The Central African Republic is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. The majority of those trafficked are children subjected to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, ambulant vending and forced labour. Moreover, civil unrest in the country has led rebels to conscript children into armed forces in the northwestern and northeastern regions, as well as kidnap, rape and subject to conditions of modern slavery, many women in the country.     Victoire, 39, told Human Rights Watch that Seleka fighters took her and four other women to a camp in Bambari in mid-2014. She said that during the month she spent there, multiple fighters raped the women and the fighters’ commander took her as his “wife”. 

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Vicky

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Vicky was trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in the state of Nebraska. She talks about the role drugs played in her trafficking and the importance of listening to those who have experienced trafficking.

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VB

There are an estimated 31,000 people living in condition of modern slavery in Israel (GSI 2018). Women from Eastern Europe, China and Ghana, as well as Eritream men and women are subjected to sex trafficking in Israel. People are often lured through the promise of seemingly legitimate jobs, only to be subjected to commercial sexual exploitation upon arrival.  VB was trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in Israel. Here she tells of what she had to endure on a daily basis

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Vanessa

There is an estimated 48,000 people living in modern slavery in Libya (GSI 2018). Libya is a major transit destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe by sea. Human trafficking networks have prospered amid lawlessness, created by the warring militias that have been fighting for control of territories since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Highly organized trafficking and migrants smuggling networks that reach into Libya from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states subject migrants to forced labor and forced prostitution through fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, debt bondage, and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. In some cases, migrants reportedly pay smuggling fees to reach Tripoli, but once they cross the Libyan border they are sometimes abandoned in southern cities or the desert where they are susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking.  In Nigeria, Vanessa struggled to house and feed herself and her three children after being thrown out of their home by her abusive husband. She worked as a hawker, selling fruit, and as a hairdresser, but worried constantly about money. Then a friend mentioned a sister in Italy with a hairdressing salon and recommended Vanessa to work there. She was told it would be an easy journey through Libya, however after arriving in Tripoli, Vanessa and her fellow travellers were housed in a smuggler’s compound when a fight broke out among neighbourhood gangs. During this time, her baby developed a fever and became critically ill, dying shortly afterward. She set off from Tripoli on a smuggler’s boat headed for Italy, but the boat was captured by bandits who took them back to Libya and held the passengers for ransom.  Vanessa’s friend's sister in Italy paid for her release, but she was unable to make it to Italy. When she tried for a second time, she was caught by the Libyan Coast Guard, brought back, and imprisoned. A Ghanaian man bailed her out of prison only to sell her to a brothel where she had to work as a prostitute to pay off her debt. 

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Vanessa

Vanessa was brought to the UK after being made false promises and forced into prostitution. She was able to escape after three months and was helped by Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), a support service in Scotland for trafficking survivors. The majority of those trafficked to the UK have been identified victims of sexual exploitation, followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation.

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Valeria

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. According to the most recent Eurostat findings, European Union (EU) citizens account for 65 percent of identified trafficked victims within Europe. These individuals mostly originate from Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. In Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Parliament has identified corruption and the judicial system as reform challenges towards accession talks within the EU. In Greece, the turbulent economic situation has increased vulnerability for populations seeking employment and livelihood opportunities. Valeria’s account makes clear the physical and psychological abuse that is often used to manipulate and imprison those being abused and exploited.

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Valdete

Born in Albania, Valdete was trafficked into Greece, where Albanian victims are also trafficked in from Nigeria, and then into Italy. Many women are trafficked into richer Western European countries from the poorer Eastern countries, including Albania. The fall of communism in 1991 led to a rise in organized crime in Albania: in 2001 it was estimated 100,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries in the preceding ten years. More than 65 percent of Albanian sex-trafficking victims are minors at the time they are trafficked, and at least 50 percent of victims leave home under the false impression that they will be married or engaged to an Albanian or foreigner and live abroad. Another ten percent are kidnapped or forced into prostitution. The women and girls receive little or no pay for their work, and are commonly tortured if they do not comply.

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V.P.

There are an estimated 145,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Italy (GSI 2018). Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Victims originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, China, and other countries. Female victims are often subjected to sex trafficking in Italy after accepting promises of employment as dancers, singers, models, restaurant servers, or caregivers. Romanian and Albanian criminal groups force Eastern European women and girls into commercial sex. V.P. travelled to Greece for work when she was 16 years old where she was introduced to a man who promised to marry her. Instead he forced her into prostitution, forcing her to work up to 12hrs and beating her daily. After 2 years V.P. was able to escape and came back to Albania. However, unable to find work she left Albania for Italy where she was exploited as a prostitute for a second time.

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V.

There are an estimated 145,000 people liing in conditions of modern slavery in Italy (GSI 2018). Italy is a destination, transit, and source country for women, children, and men subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Victims originate from Nigeria, Romania, Morocco, China, and other countries. Female victims are often subjected to sex trafficking in Italy after accepting promises of employment as dancers, singers, models, restaurant servers, or caregivers. Romanian and Albanian criminal groups force Eastern European women and girls into commercial sex. V was thirteen years old when she was trafficked to Italy by a boy she believed loved her and who had asked her to marry him. Upon arrival in Italy, V was locked in a hotel room, raped, beaten and forced into prostitution. After three weeks of exploitation, V was arrested and deported back to Albania.