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.
I have been talking to other villagers who were going to leave and I thought it would be fine... I did not ask many questions about the work or the payment.... Furthermore, I had nothing to lose; I did not need any money for leaving.
I have been involved in conflicts at the local bar.
I heard of an opportunity to leave for a job abroad, in France, while visiting a neighbouring town, from a person I have never met before and who probably saw me as a poor fellow and asked me whether I need some money.
When I arrived there I was delivered to a gypsy family that was accommodating several people, and they told me that the next day I would have to go beg with the others because no other jobs exist and we have to pay for accommodation and food. I said that I did not want to go there to beg and they told me that I can return [to Romania] if I have the money and, if not, I must go beg, and they even beat me. Other gypsy families were visiting the gypsies where we were living, they were all together and I think they also had some car-related businesses.
I am still afraid that they will come to my house and hurt me. It is known that I have given a statement to the police.
Narrative B40 provided by National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons