There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Judith Dulaz left her family in the Philippines for the US in 2005. She began working as a domestic worker for a Japanese diplomat’s family in New York. She was promised $1800 per month, paid holidays and other benefits but, in reality, she worked up to 18 hours per day and received $500 per month. Judith provided full-time childcare and also was responsible for all the cooking and cleaning. Her employers held her passport and she was subject to physical abuse by her employers. Judith escaped in 2006 and later was connected with the Damayan Worker Cooperative through a friend. She recently reunited with her family, including her four children, in the US after ten years. She was 50 years old when she told her story in 2017.
In the Philippines, women and children are subjected to sexual exploitation in brothels, bars, and massage parlours, online, as well as in the production of pornography. The Philippines is an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism – a highly profitable businesses for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism. Rising internet usage rates, the availability of mobile phones and poverty has fostered online child sexual exploitation.
Annabel left school at 13 and began working various exploitative jobs, first in domestic service and then in a brothel, where she experienced a police raid. Instead of coming to her rescue, the effect of the police operation was to shame and stigmatize Annabel in her own community, making it harder for her to reintegrate or find other work. Annabel also discusses her future, and what changes she would like to see to prevent vulnerable people becoming enslaved.