There are an estimated 212,000 people living in modern slavery in Malaysia (GSI 2018). The majority of those exploited are migrant and undocumented workers in the country. Foreign workers constitute more than 20 percent of the Malaysian workforce and typically migrate voluntarily—often illegally—to Malaysia from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries, mostly in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are subjected to forced labour or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labour recruiters when they are unable to pay the fees for recruitment and associated travel. Thiri came to Malaysia in 2007 from Myanmar without documents. He was brought to immigration officials and was told he was being deported to the Thai-Malaysian border. However, he was forced into the back of a vehicle and taken to a house where traffickers demanded money to go back to Malaysia. Those that could not pay, including Thiri were kept in the house and threatened with forced labour. Thiri and six others tried to escape and have the traffickers arrested but police were involved in the trafficking and they were taken back to the house where they were being kept. Thiri was forced to cook and clean, sell drugs, and become the traffickers’ ‘bodyguard,’ beating new arrivals who also could not pay the fee to return to Malaysia. Eventually Thiri was able to escape.
There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery in 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. Amelia’s story began when she was trafficked from her home in an Eastern European country. Her ‘boyfriend’ told her that he could get them both jobs in the UK. He went ahead and sent plane tickets for her to join him. However, when she arrived at the airport she was met by a strange man. He drove her to a flat where she was raped and forced into prostitution. She eventually escaped from her traffickers and was supported by Black Country Women’s Aid.
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. FI, a 29-year-old woman from Wonosobo (2012- ), recounted how the head of a recruitment agency in Indonesia had threatened her when she did not repay all her fees.
The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children 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. Kim HO left North Korea for China in 2003 after hearing she could make good money. She followed a man into China and was sold to a Korean-Chinese man for $600. Kim HO lived with that man for seven years till she escaped and looked for a way to South Korea.
The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children 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. Choi MA crossed the border into China with a friend in 2001 after being swindled out of her money by a fisherman. Upon arrival, they were both sold to a farmer by a Chinese family they had asked for help. After living a year at this place Choi MA escaped and worked as a house and restaurant helper. Later she was arrested by the police. In April 2004 Choi MA was repatriated to North Korea but managed to escape for a second time in October 2004. Eventually she was able to make it to South Korea.
There are an estimated 3.8 million people living in conditions of modern slavery in China (GSI 2018). 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. Kachin people are an ethnic minority who are predominantly Christian. Armed conflict between Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army has made life in the area difficult. This was exacerbated in 2011 with the end of a cease fire that left over 100,000 people internally displaced. In the camp where many of these people live there is little opportunity to earn a living. The government have made it worse by blocking aid to displaced people. This has led to women and girls becoming particularly vulnerable to trafficking as they search for jobs outside the country, often in China. Chewa was looking for work and told she would find it more easily further from the border. She followed two agents across the border to China where she was forced to marry a Chinese man.
It is estimated that there are 8000 people living in modern slavery in Ireland (GSI 2018). Men, women and children are subjected to sex trafficking, forced labour and forced criminal activity. Irish citizens are trafficked within the country, with overseas victims being trafficked from Nigeria, Romania, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan. Hannah was forced in to commercial sexual exploitation by her boyfriend in Ireland.