India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. Aanya was living in poor conditions and having to care for nine children when her husband fell sick. In order to pay for his treatment, she took a loan from a mahajan and was forced to work at his house to repay the debt. When one day she had to care for her husband and could not go in to work, the mahajan refused to allow her back to work, forcing Aanya to send her children to work in the fields to help repay back the debt.
Experts estimate millions of women and children are victims of sex trafficking in India. Traffickers use false promises of employment or arrange sham marriages in India or Gulf States and subject women and girls to sex trafficking. In addition to traditional red light districts, women and children increasingly endure sex trafficking in small hotels, vehicles, huts, and private residences. Traffickers increasingly use websites, mobile applications, and online money transfers to facilitate commercial sex. Children continue to be subjected to sex trafficking in religious pilgrimage centers and by foreign travelers in tourist destinations. Many women and girls, predominately from Nepal and Bangladesh, and from Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and Asia, including minority populations from Burma, are subjected to sex trafficking in India. Aarya obtained a job in domestic work after her father's alcohol consumption meant there was a shortage of food for the family. Aarya was subjected to sexual exploitation by her employer and eventually moved to a flat where she was forced to perform sexual services for clients. Unable to tell her parents under fear of losing much needed income for the family Aarya remained silent about her exploitation.
Without parents to care for her, Abirami was forced to live at a relative’s house from a young age, where she suffered abuse and was later prevented from attending school so she could perform domestic duties for the family. She ran away to become a child soldier in Sri Lanka at the age of 13. Although Abirami joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) movement voluntarily, rather than being abducted like many other children, her recruitment at such a young age is against international law and now considered a war crime. Having now left the LTTE, Abirami discusses the possibilities of what she might do next and struggles to imagine her future.
Niger is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Caste-based slavery practices continue primarily in the northern part of the country and affect some 44,000 people. Victims from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo are exploited in sex and labour trafficking in Niger. Nigerien boys are subjected to forced labour, including forced begging, within the country. Corrupt marabouts or loosely organized clandestine networks may also place Nigerien girls into domestic servitude or commercial sex. Nigerien children are subjected to forced labour in gold, salt, trona, and gypsum mines; agriculture; stone quarries; and manufacturing within the country. Girls are subjected to sex trafficking along the border with Nigeria, sometimes with the complicity of their families Abdullah and his family lived under the control of their masters in descent based slavery until they settled in a village founded by Anti-Slavery International around its school project in Niger. As a result of this project, Abdullah is now able to go to school.
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. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most widespread for of modern slavery with an 84% of victims trafficked for this purpose. The majority of those trafficked for this purpose are women and young girls who often originate from Eastern Europe within the EU as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of people being trafficked from Nigeria to various parts of Europe including Italy, France, Spain and the UK through an array of complex trafficking networks. Aduke, a Nigerian teenager, was sold as an adult and forced in to prostitution on the streets in both the south of France and the UK.
In France, women and children are being subjected to domestic servitude, in cases in which families exploit relatives brought from Africa to work in their households. Trafficking networks have expanded to operate in large towns outside of Paris, including Lille, Marseille, Chartres, Toulouse, and Nice. Affoué was taken from the Ivory Coast and exploited for 12 years under domestic servitude in France without pay or a day off. She eventually escaped with the help of a French NGO, and now she is moving forward with her life, together with her son.
African child. This image formed part of the Harris Lantern Slide Collection. Under King Leopold II the Congo Free State used mass forced labour to extract rubber from the jungle for the European market. As consumer demand grew King Leopold II's private army - the Force Publique - used violent means to coerce the population into meeting quotas, including murder, mutilation, rape, village burning, starvation and hostage taking. Alice Seeley Harris and her husband Reverend John H. Harris were missionaries in the Congo Free State from the late 1890s. Alice produced a collection of images documenting the horrific abuses of the African rubber labourers. Her photographs are considered to be an important development in the history of humanitarian campaigning. The images were used in a number of publications. The Harrises also used the photographs to develop the Congo Atrocity Lantern Lecture which toured Britain and the the USA raising awareness of the issue of colonial abuses under King Leopold II's regime. Source: Antislavery International.
It is estimated that there are over four million domestic workers in India. The domestic sector is informal and unregulated, obscured in private homes, and workers are not recognised as such but rather as ‘informal help’. Their wages are, on average, only a third of those in other sectors, they have very limited social protections, and commonly suffer poor working conditions, exploitation, abuse and slavery. Many domestic workers are migrants from poorer states and are among the most marginalised and socially discriminated populations in India. Most of them are Dalits or come from other disadvantaged castes and tribal minorities, many are landless, illiterate and innumerate, which increases their vulnerability and disempowerment. Afsana was just 16 years old and her parents were struggling to feed their family when a woman offered to get Afsana a job. Eventually both parents agreed and Afsana was taken to a house to undertake domestic work. Forced to work long, gruelling hours and physically and sexually abused Afsana never received any money for her work. Afsana eventually escaped with the help of a local worker.
In France, women and children are being subjected to domestic servitude, in cases in which families exploit relatives brought from Africa to work in their households. Trafficking networks have expanded to operate in large towns outside of Paris, including Lille, Marseille, Chartres, Toulouse, and Nice. "Agnès" arrived as an orphan to study in France but instead of education she was forced to work long hours without pay or contract. She eventually escaped with the help of neighbours.
Uganda remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Ugandan children as young as seven are exploited in forced labour in agriculture, fishing, forestry, cattle herding, mining, carpentry, bars, restaurants and domestic service. Girls and boys are also exploited in prostitution, with recruiters targeting girls and women between the ages of 13 and 24 for domestic sex trafficking. 54,000 girls under 18 are sex workers in Uganda. Lured by false promises of education and good jobs. Others are escaping poverty, sexual abuse and child marriage. Aisha was 13 years old when she was first forced to provide sexual services for men by her employer. Aisha travelled to Kampala City under the promise that she would be working in a bar and using her salary to pay for school. However, instead she was forced in to child prostitution. Aisha became pregnant less than a year after she had been trafficked, and rather than pay for her education, all the money she earned she sent back to her mother who was caring for her children. Aisha was finally able to escape her situation with the help of Plan International’s programme to help and train young girls exploited in sex work for a better future.
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. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most widespread for of modern slavery with an 84% of victims trafficked for this purpose. The majority of those trafficked for this purpose are women and young girls, thought men and boys are also trafficked for sexual exploitation. They often originate from Eastern Europe within the EU as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of people being trafficked from Nigeria to various parts of Europe including Italy, France, Spain and the UK through an array of complex trafficking networks. Al Bangura was born and raised in Sierra Leone but now lives in London with his wife and young children. Wanting to help support his family, Al travelled to Guinea where he was told by a man that he could play footbal in Paris. Al trusted this man, however on arrival in Paris, he was put in a room and subjected to sexual exploitation daily. He is now a professional footballer who has played for Watford Football Club in the UK’s Premier League.
Alana was born in Moldova and trafficked into sex slavery in Russia, where men and women are also trafficked in from Central Asia and North Korea for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Moldova is a country origin for the trafficking of women and children into European sex slavery. Its economic conditions fuel this trafficking. In 2000, the country’s GDP was 40 percent of its level in 1990. Unemployment remains high, especially among women. People are forced to look outside of the country for work and pimps take advantage: some victims are kidnapped but more often they answer job advertisements promising work and then are forced into sex slavery. Most Moldovan trafficking victims are taken to the Balkan countries, though other destinations include Asia, Turkey, Western Europe and the Middle East.
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. Aleta’s story highlights how children who face abuse at home are particularly vulnerable to enslavement and sexual exploitation.
Born in Venezula, Alexia was trafficked through Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago. She went on to work in Venezuela with an organization that helps women to escape from sex slavery. Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Venezuelan women and girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Western Europe and Mexico, in addition to Caribbean destinations such as Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, and the Dominican Republic. Men, women, and children from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) are trafficked to and through Venezuela and may be subjected to commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. In addition, Venezuelan women and girls are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, recruited from poor regions in the nation’s interior to urban and tourist areas through false job offers.
Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. 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. Ali, a young woman who fell into a life of drug addiction and prostitution in Philadelphia, describes the hold sex traffickers have on their victims and how she was ultimately able to escape the life with the help of a deputy sheriff on an FBI task force.
UK children continue to be subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Children in the care system and unaccompanied migrant children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. At least one child a day is trafficked into Britain according the to the Human Trafficking Foundation, with children forced to work in the sex industry, domestic service, cannabis cultivation or as criminal on the streets. Child victims of human trafficking primarily originate from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, and from within the UK itself. After her mum left home and her dad started drinking, Alisha looked for friendship in a group of older people outside of school. Thinking they cared about her, Alisha accepted alcohol and drugs from them. Once she became hooked, her friends demanded she pay them for what they had given her, forcing her to perform sexual services under the threat of violence.
Across Senegal, an estimated 50,000 boys living in traditional Quranic boarding schools, or daaras, are forced to beg for daily quotas of money, rice or sugar by their Quranic teachers, known as marabouts. Known as talibés, these children are sent by their parents to daaras to learn the holy Coran. Children in these daaras are often beaten, chained, bound, and subjected to other forms of physical or psychological abuse amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment. While in 2016 the government introduced a new programme to 'remove children from the streets', it has done little to reduce the alarming numbers of children subjected to exploitation, abuse and daily neglect. Amadou was sent to a daara to be a talibé in Dakar. After refusing to learn he was locked up for two years, being released once his 'sentence' was over. Once released, Amadou ran away during the hours of begging and sought reguge at a children's centre.
The Global Slavery Index estimated that in 2016 modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted from approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaves population. The issue of child soldiers remains a problem across the region. South Sudan has been experiencing a civil war since 2013 and it is estimated that round 19,000 children are serving in the ranks of armed forces and militia groups in the country. Young children, mostly young boys, are forced to abduct, rape and kill members of their own community under threats to their own lives. While continued international pressure has led to the freeing of over 200 child soldiers in April, 2018, the number of children forced to fight continues to grow due to ongoing aggression in the region. Ameen, 17 years old, told Human Rights Watch about what happened to him after he was captured by Olony’s forces outside the UN base in September 2014
There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery un 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. Amy’s sexual exploitation began at the age of 11 after fights with her mother led to long hours spent in local parks and town centres. After a few months she began spending time with one man who invited her to spend time with him and his friends at their flat. However, once there Amy was subjected to physical abuse daily. Not knowing how to escape or where she would go, Amy’s abuse continued until she was 13.
In Tanzania, internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and characteristically facilitated by victims’ family members, friends, or intermediaries offering assistance with education or securing employment in urban areas. Impoverished children from the rural interior remain most vulnerable to trafficking. Girls are exploited in domestic servitude throughout the country and in sex trafficking particularly in tourist hubs and along the border with Kenya.
Angel ran away from home to avoid a forced marriage and accepted exploitative domestic work to avoid being homeless. Her story demonstrates how initiatives by anti-slavery NGOs to educate young workers about their rights can help them to avoid financial and sexual exploitation.