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Elira

Born in Albania, Elira was trafficked into Italy, where trafficking victims also arrive from Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, China, and South America. One NGO estimates that 48 percent of the prostitutes in Italy are from Eastern Europe.

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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Goma

Goma was enslaved in her home country of Nepal as a teenager, after running away with friends to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. She was made to weave carpet without pay and beaten when she asked for the money she earned. According to the Global Slavery Index, within Nepal, forced labour and debt bondage persist, particularly within the agriculture, forestry, construction, and manufacturing sectors. Many Nepalese are trapped into exploitative situations by borrowing money from lenders, who then force borrowers to work to repay their debt. As in Goma’s case, those in debt bondage do not have the freedom to work for another employer without the landlord’s permission, and are subjected to working long hours for wages below the minimum wage. Individuals who eventually pay off their debt are at risk of falling back into modern slavery, due to limited alternative job opportunities. Studies also indicate that forced marriage and the marriage of those under 15 years old continues.

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Ima (Narrative 2)

At age 16, Ima Matul was forced into an arranged marriage in Indonesia with a man 12 years her senior. After running away, was offered an opportunity to work in the United States as a nanny. But instead she was held in domestic forced labour for three years in Los Angeles. She told her story to another survivor, Flor, in 2009. Both women were part of the Survivor Advisory Caucus attached to the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles (CAST LA). Another narrative by Ima can be found within the archive.

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Ima (Narrative 1)

At age 16, Ima Matul was forced into an arranged marriage in Indonesia with a man 12 years her senior. After running away, was offered an opportunity to work in the United States as a nanny. But instead she was held in domestic forced labour for three years in Los Angeles. She told her story to another survivor, Flor, in 2009. Both women were part of the Survivor Advisory Caucus attached to the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking in Los Angeles (CAST LA). Another narrative by Ima can be found within the archive.

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Kimete

 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. Kimete was placed in an orphanage when she was born until she was four years old. After her mother remarried, she was picked up from the orphanage and lived with her family in a ‘shack.’ When she turned 16, her mother and step-father arranged for her to marry a 33 year old man. Her husband suffered mental illness and soon after marrying was hospitalised. While living alone, a salesperson came to buy products from Kimete and said he could marry his nephew. Kimete’s new husband trafficked her into commercial sexual exploitation in Italy.

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Odeta

Born in Albania, Odeta was trafficked into Italy, where trafficking victims also arrive from Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, China, and South America. One NGO estimates that 48 percent of the prostitutes in Italy are from Eastern Europe. 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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Sanije

Born in Albania, Sanije was “married” to a stranger in Greece by her father, then later to another man, both of whom abused her. 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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Christina A.

Romania is a significant source of sex and labor trafficking victims throughout Europe. Romanian men, women, and children are subjected to labor trafficking in agriculture, construction, domestic service, hotels, and manufacturing, as well as forced begging and theft in Romania and other European countries. Romani children are particularly vulnerable to forced begging and sex trafficking. Corruption is a prevalent issue: government officials have been convicted of human trafficking crimes, and there have been reports of local officials obstructing trafficking investigations. Married against her will at 13 and forced to steal by her husband in Spain and Belgium, Christina now lives in a youth shelter and is going to school.

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Esther Choe (Narrative 2)

Esther was a textile worker in North Korea when she learned that she could make 20 times the amount of her current pay caring for children in China, so she decided to go to work for a short period of time. She was subsequently caught in human trafficking and was sold as a ‘‘wife’’ to a Chinese man who locked her up. After she escaped, with no one to help her, she went back to the trafficker who sold her and pled for him to help her get back home. But, instead, he sold her again to another Chinese man. Through the help of an American Pastor, she was able to escape to the United States in 2008.

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Mirela

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. 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. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia. Mirela was trafficked into sexual exploitation after being forced into an arranged marriage. She was only able to escape her captors after a year by climbing through a window. Her story highlights the difficulty of some survivors in returning home, sometimes because of stigma attached to their sex work abroad, regardless of whether it was forced.

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Randa

ISIS has singled out the Yezidi 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. Randa was abducted in August 2014 from her village south of Mount Sinjar with her parents and siblings and scores of other relatives. She was sold or given as a “gift” to a man twice her age who then raped her. Her father was killed along with other male relatives. Her mother, who was heavily pregnant when she was abducted, gave birth in ISIS captivity and was still being held with scores of other women and children from the family when Randa told her story. Some were being held in Syria, others in Iraq. Randa and two of her aunts and two uncles managed to escape at different times. She was 16 years old during her enslavement and when she told her story in late 2014.

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Kyi Kyi

The internal migration of Chinese people seeking work has created an opportunity for human traffickers in China. Moreover 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. The prevalence of poverty in China makes the poor more vulnerable to enslavement. With the National Bureau of Statistics estimating that 70,170,000 are still living in poverty, people are more desperate and thus more likely to be receptive to fraudulent job offers. Kyi Kyi was looking for employment when a recruiter offered her work as a domestic worker in Mandalay that provided a good salary she could send home to her husband. However, upon reaching Mandalay, Kyi Kyi was told she must continue on to another location or pay for transportation, meals and broker fees. Unable to pay, Kyi Kyi was forced to continue on and upon arrival in Kyae Gaung was told she had been bought and had to marry a Chinese man. When she refused she was locked in a room, beaten daily for six months and forced to labour in the family’s fields. After a while Kyi Kyi was able to learn the family’s language and gain their trust which enabled her to eventually escape by bus to the city where she was aided by locals who called the police.

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Anita B

In 2016, the estimates of modern slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 13.6 percent of the world's total enslaved population. As evident from surveys conducted in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia by Walk Free Foundation, slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa takes the form of forced labour and forced marriage. In Ghana, survey results suggest that there are an estimated 103,300 people enslaved in that country, of which 85 percent are in forced labour, and 15 percent are in forced marriage. For forced labour, the main industries of concern are farming and fishing, retail sales and then manual labour and factory work. In Nigeria, survey results suggest that forced labour is predominantly within the domestic sector, although it was impossible to survey in three regions due to high conflict. In South Africa, the industries most reported in the survey include the commercial sex industry, manual labour industries such as construction, manufacturing and factory work, and drug trafficking. Anita was 10 years old when she was forcibly circumcised and married off to a 55 year old man in her home country of Kenya. Subjected daily to beatings and sexual violence by her new husband, Anita was eventually able to run away.

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Park Ji-hyun

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the  country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death.    In the 1990s North Korea experienced a wide scale famine that killed up to 1 million people. After her family was displaced, Ji-hyun was left to care for her dying father. To escape starvation, she and her brother left, travelling with traffickers into China. Ji-hyun was told that if she wanted to provide for her family, she must marry a Chinese man. After being in China for 6 years Ji-hyun was reported to the authorities., sent back to North Korea and placed in a correctional facility before being sent to Chongin labour camp in Songpyong District. After becoming ill and unable to work, Ji-hun was dismissed from the labour camp. Alone and homeless she arranged to be re-trafficked back to China in order to find the son she had left behind. Once reunited, they escaped with the help of a man who Ji-hyun fell in love with. They all now live as a family in the UK. 

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Matilda

In Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20−24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000−2011. Early marriage remains a significant problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with UNICEF predicting that half of the world’s child brides will be African by 2050. Matilda was forced to marry a man she did not know. Her husband physically and sexually abused her and could not afford to support her.

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Pion H

In Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20−24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000−2011. Early marriage remains a significant problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with UNICEF predicting that half of the world’s child brides will be African by 2050. Pion H. was 10-years-old and in her second year of primary school when her grandmother told her she was to undergo FGM and get married.

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Tenneh

Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread across many developing countries and has affected an estimated 140 million girls across Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia. In Sierra Leone it is considered a traditional practice as part of initiation in to secret women’s societies known as Bondo, with nine out of ten women and girls having been cut. Membership marks a girls’ transition into womanhood and they receive training in their roles as wives and mothers. While FGM is therefore seen as a societal norm, it has internationally been considered a violation of human rights. As a result, the country faces pressure to pass laws against its practice. Tenneh was subjected to female genital mutilation at the age of 8 years old in Sierra Leone in order to prepare her for marriage.

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Anita G

In Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20−24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000−2011. Early marriage remains a significant problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with UNICEF predicting that half of the world’s child brides will be African by 2050.  Anita G.was 16 and in her second year of secondary school when her father forced her to leave school and get married. When Anita and her mother opposed the marriage, her father beat them both. 

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Janet B

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 targetting 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. Janet was 15 when she was forced to marry a man who was 36 years old. Her husband infected Janet with HIV and, ostracised by her family, she ran away to Kampala city. Upon arriving in Kampala, Janet was forced to undertake sex work in order to survive. With the help of Plan International, Janet was able to escape sex work and train to become a hairdresser.

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Sonhita

Despite signs of progress, Bangladesh continues to have one of the highest child marriage rates in the world.66% of girls in Bangladesh are married under 18 with the average age of marriage for girls in the country being 15. As well as deeply embedded cultural beliefs, poverty, is also a driving factor for child marriage, with parents’ seeking to obtain economic and social security for their daughter. Dowry also continues to be a driving factor, with prices often increasing the older a girls gets. Sonhita was 10 years old when she was forced to marry her cousin. As a result Sonhita has had to give up her education and dream of becoming a teacher. She is now 13 years old with a 6 month old daughter.