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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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Miguel

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. Miguel travelled from Mexico to the United States in search of work to support his family, including his sick son. Miguel along with five others paid for assistance to cross the boarder to the US and on to Florida where they were met by their ‘boss’ who informed them they would work to pay off their debts. Miguel tells of how he was forced to work under constant threats for little pay.

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IR

There are an estimated 10,000 people living in modern slavery in Hong Kong (GSI 2018). Approximately 370,000 foreign domestic workers, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines, work in Hong Kong; some become victims of forced labour in the private homes in which they are employed. An NGO report released in 2016 estimated as many as one in six foreign domestic workers is a victim of labour exploitation. Employment agencies often charge job placement fees in excess of legal limits, and sometimes withhold identity documents, which may lead to situations of debt bondage of workers in Hong Kong. The accumulated debts sometimes amount to a significant portion of the worker’s first year salary. Some employers or employment agencies illegally withhold passports, employment contracts, or other possessions until the debt is paid. Some workers are required to work up to 17 hours per day, experience verbal, sexual or physical abuse in the home, and/or are not granted a legally required weekly day off.  IR, a 29-year-old woman from Ponorogo (2009-2011), was trafficked to Hong Kong and deceived by her broker.

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Jane Kohut

There are an estimated 5,000 people living in modern slavery in Slovenia (GSI 2018). Slovenia is a destination, transit, and, to a lesser extent, a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking and for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and forced begging. Women and children from Slovenia, Eastern European and Western Balkan countries, and the Dominican Republic are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and many also transit to Western Europe where they may face sexual and labour exploitation. Ethnic Roma are particularly vulnerable to trafficking in Slovenia. Jane Kohut was 25 when she was forced into prostitution.

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Grace

There are an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery in Nigeria (GSI 2018). Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, and a source country for men subjected to forced labour. Nigerian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking within Nigeria and throughout Europe, including in Italy, Spain, Austria, and Russia. In 2015, a foreign government reported that with the exception of internal trafficking within the EU, Nigerian nationals are the most common trafficking victims in the EU. Before departure for work abroad, many Nigerian women participate in a traditional ceremony with a juju priest; some traffickers exploit this tradition and tell the women they must obey their traffickers or a curse will harm them, which prevents victims from seeking assistance or cooperating with law enforcement. While some sex trafficking victims arrive in Europe believing they will be working in prostitution, traffickers coerce them to stay in prostitution by changing the working conditions and increasing victims’ travel debts.  Grace* was promised work as a cleaner in the UK by a local businesswoman who trafficked her and forced her into prostitution.

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Rachel (Narrative 2)

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.Rachel became involved in drug abuse at a young age. Her trafficker used her addiction and threats against her friends and family to force her in to prostitution.

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Gun

It is estimated that 39,000 people are living in modern slavery in Japan (GSI 2018). The country is the destination for men, women and children trafficked for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking victims are foreign women who migrate willingly seeking work, but find themselves trapped in debt bondage, having to work in domestic and sex work to pay off fees incurred. Despite warning from the U.N., it is reported that human trafficking is on the rise in Japan. Gun was trafficked from Thailand to Japan and sold into sex slavery. In 1991, Gun and two Thai friends escaped from their captor by stabbing her to death. They fled with her bag, thinking that it contained their passports. But the bag contained seven million yen ($80,000) in cash. They were arrested in the same night. In 1994 the prosecutor charged them with premeditated murder and they received a life sentence. After international campaigns and petitions, their imprisonment was reduced and they were released in 1999.

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Afzal

There are an estimated 6000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Kuwait (GSI 2018). Men and women migrate from South and Southeast Asia, Egypt, the Middle East, and increasingly throughout Africa to work in Kuwait, predominantly in the domestic service, construction, hospitality, and sanitation sectors. The vast majority of migrant workers arrive voluntarily; however, upon arrival some sponsors subject migrants to forced labour, including through non-payment of wages, protracted working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as confinement to the workplace and the withholding of passports. Many of the migrant workers arriving in Kuwait have paid exorbitant fees to labour recruiters in their home countries or are coerced into paying labour broker fees in Kuwait which, according to Kuwaiti law, should be paid by the employer—a practice making workers highly vulnerable to forced labour, including debt bondage. To a lesser extent, migrant women are also subjected to forced prostitution. Afzal travelled from Bangladesh to Kuwait to follow his wife who had been working abroad for three years. Afzal was sent to do housework where he experienced threats, beatings and sexual violence at the hands of his employer and her sons.

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Rajita T

There are an estimated 171,000 people living in modern slavery in Nepal (GSI 2018). Within Nepal, bonded labour exists in agriculture, brick kilns, the stone-breaking industry, and domestic work. Sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls increasingly takes place in private apartments, rented rooms, guest houses, and restaurants. Nepali and Indian children are subjected to forced labor in the country, especially in domestic work, brick kilns, and the embroidered textile, or zari, industry. Under false promises of education and work opportunities, Nepali parents give their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently unregistered children’s homes in urban locations, where they are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from tourists and volunteers; some of the children are also forced to beg on the street. According to Human Rights Watch, thirty-seven percent of girls in Nepal marry before age 18 and 10 percent are married by age 15, in spite of the fact that the minimum age of marriage under Nepali law is 20 years of age. UNICEF data indicates that Nepal has the third highest rate of child marriage in Asia, after Bangladesh and India.Rajita T. was married when she was 12 or 13 to her husband who was about 18 years old

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Selassie

There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt, 465,000 in Sudan and an estimated 451,000 in Eritrea (GSI 2018). Since 2006 tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Until 2010, they passed through Sinai voluntarily and generally without any problems and crossed in to Israel. However, since then, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sold them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai who have subjected at least hundreds to violence in order to extort large sums of money from their relatives. Selassie* escaped from his kidnappers at the end of December 2011 but recalls how a second group of “Rashaida” kidnapped and then tortured him and other Eritrean kidnap victims.

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Nang Nang Tsawm

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China. Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Nang Nu Tsawm was 14 years old when she was offered work in a clothing store in Myanmar near the Chinese border, playing 50,000 kya ($38) per month. Nang Nu Tsawm and her cousin went to work there. However, after working for a week, she was drugged and sold as a bride to a 15 year old boy. She was in China for 5 years and gave birth to two children before police were alerted to her presence and arrested her for being in the country illegally. Nang Nu Tsawm was held in jail for several weeks and then deported. Her children remained with the family that bought her.

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Ja Htoi Tsawm

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China. Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Ja Htoi Tsawm travelled to China often to do agricultural work for a few weeks or months at a time to support her four children after her husband, a drug user, abandoned the family. On a trip there in 2013, at age 29, she was trafficked by a woman she befriended as they worked together in a sugarcane field. She was held captive for two years. While she was gone, her in-laws sold her house and took the money. They put one of her children in an orphanage, and another of her children died while she was away.

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Ja Tawng

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016 there were over 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China. Women and girls from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa are trafficked in to forced marriage in the country for fees of up to £30,000. The gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. Ja Tawng was offered a job in China in a sugarcane field. She brought her two children with her, however upon arrival they were trafficked together.

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Maryfe

Today women represent around half of the total population of international migrants worldwide. They move, more and more, as independent workers, usually to more developed countries in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. Reproducing patterns of gender inequality, at destination they tend to find work in traditionally female-dominated occupations such as domestic work. Their vulnerabilities are often linked to precarious recruitment processes (including passport and contract substitution as well as charging of excessive fees), the absence of adapted assistance and protection mechanisms, the social and cultural isolation they can face at the destination due to language and cultural differences, lack of advance and accurate information on terms and conditions of employment, absence of labour law coverage and/or enforcement in the country of destination, and restrictions on freedom of movement and association, among other things. Maryfe migrated from the Philippines to Hong Kong in the hopes of earning more money abroad to support her children. Maryfe took a job caring for her employer’s disabled child and bedridden father. She was subjected to violence and threats daily and eventually broke her contract to return to the Philippines. However, still needing to provide for her children, Maryfe travelled abroad again, this time to Dubai, taking a job as a nanny. Maryfe was forced to work long hours with little sleep and no time off. When the family she worked for moved to a different country she was forced to go with them. Though Maryfe was able to escape her employment, she is now stuck undocumented in a foreign country.  

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Aditi

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned international borders, duping or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape.  Aditi* was sent to live with her cousin in the red-light area of Kolkata. When she was 11, she was taken to a brothel where she was kept for three years and forced to provide sexual services. When police raided the brothel, Aditi was arrested along with her madam. She was eventually moved to a home and talks of how she is still haunted by her past trauma. 

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Elena

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016, an estimated 3.6 million men, women and children were living in modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia. People are subjected to exploitation in forced labour, debt bondage and forced sexual exploitation. Government response in Europe is particularly strong with a number of regional bodies holding them account and monitoring responses, and while countries in Central Asia have taken steps to tack modern slavery, more needs to be done.  Elena and her family were struggling to get by, being forced to steal food to have something to eat, when she was offered a way for her family to be taken care of and find work. However, instead of a job, F and her family were forced to beg for their recruiters. Though F tried to escape, she was caught by the traffickers and threatened with her life if she tried to leave again. 

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Andrei A

It is estimated that there are 105,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Spain (GSI 2018). Spain is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Women from from Easter Europe, particularly Romania, South America and Nigeria are subjected to sex trafficking, while men and women from South and East Asia are subjected to forced labour in the textile, agricultural, construction, industrial and service sectors. Unaccompanied migrant children continue to be trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced begging.    Andrei took up an offer for a job in Spain, however upon arrival he was forced to beg on the streets under constant surveillance and threats.

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Alexandru

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are approximately 129,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in France. France is a destination, transit and, to a lesser extent, source country for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and sex trafficking. People from Romania and West and North Africa are forced to commit crimes including petty theft and are often subjected to forced begging. They are often lured to the country by false job offers as they seek a better life for their families.   Alexandru was looking for work when he heard of a job opportunity in France. However, upon arrived he was given to a gypsy family and forced to beg under the threat of violence. Alexandru was finally able to escape and gave a statement to the police about his experience.  

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Tricia Grant

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. Tricia Grant was approached by two men offering a way for her to make some money to support her son. However, upon arriving at the address she was given, Tricia was forced to provide sexual services against her will. The men threatened to take away her son if she refused.

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Elsa B

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates than there are 749,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Afghanistan. Women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Those who pay intermediaries to assist in finding employment, either in Afghanistan or primarily in Iran, Pakistan, India, Europe or North America are forced in to prostitution. Moreover, boy travelling unaccompanied are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking to Greece.  Elsa was around 14 when she ran away from home to escape forced marriage. However, the person who she thought was helping her raped her, sold her to a broker and Elsa was then forced in to prostitution.