Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Lecture Resources


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Commodification of Women



Trafficking of Women and Girls to Bosnia and Herzegovina for Forced Prostitution

A Submission for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child from the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division, 2002

[accessed 23 January 2011]

Sale of Women and Girls

All of the women and girls Human Rights Watch and the NGO Lara interviewed, as well as those who gave testimony in the courts and to IPTF, had been sold.  In a typical case, a woman trafficked from Moldova in the summer of 2000 told Human Rights Watch:


[One trafficker] took me to a bar in Belgrade, and I danced.  Another guy asked me to work for him, and he bought me. I stayed there for a little while.  I was sold two more times, and they took me to Bijeljina.   I lived at home with the [owner’s] wife and kids for one week.  One guy [name withheld] came with a friend and he bought me…. I was locked in.  I told him that I wanted to go home and he said that I had to pay off a debt [her purchase price]




Fighting the flesh trade

Marion Marrache, The Jerusalem Post, 11-30-2001

[accessed 14 February 2011]

[scroll down]

According to a report issued by the International Abolitionist Federation, an estimated one-fourth of these women are unaware that they will be working in the sex trade, believing instead they will be employed as waitresses, cooks, au pairs, models or masseuses. None are prepared for what they eventually encounter. Most suffer beatings and repeated rape. The women are viewed and bought at pimping auctions - during which they are forced to undress - at prices ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

According to attorney Nomi Levenkron of the Migrant Hotline, those who fetch the lower prices end up working in the slum area around Tel Aviv's old central bus station. Their passports are taken from them, and they are often kept locked up in apartments with barred windows.



Kyrgyz Republic

Preventing Human Trafficking in Kyrgyzstan Project [PDF]

Contributors: Elmira Shishkaraeva & Galina Gorborukova;  Editor: Amy Heyden,  Final Report, March 5, 2004

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 10 July 2013]

V. CONCLUSIONS - The use of human beings as collateral in trade deals is a specific type of human trafficking that exists in the Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan. This type of human trafficking is related with small enterprises and constitutes informal business guarantees for trade deals between Kyrgyz and Chinese businesses. Many NGOs and law enforcement representatives participated in the meetings were inclined to examine the issue of human collateral as a characteristic of human trafficking in Kyrgyzstan, although this issue of consent in these deals was rather controversial. There was a lack of understand of the full definition of human trafficking and how in these instances, where individuals held as collateral are denied freedom of movement, have their passports confiscated, etc., these individuals may be considered victims of human trafficking regardless of whether or not they consenting to being human collateral. There does seem to be a decrease in the prevalence of this problem as the tightened visa regime has made it more difficult to travel to China, but there are still individuals being held in China who need assistance in being repatriated to Kyrgyzstan.




Journey Into Sex Slavery

Richard Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2001

[accessed 10 June 2013]

Angela Slobodchuk, 25, has a story to tell. She offers it in a low monotone, in a near-whisper, to anyone who listens.  It begins in her poor farming village in the former Soviet republic of Moldova with the promise of a job as a waitress in Italy.  It takes her on an odyssey of torment through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania. She is raped, beaten, forced into prostitution, smuggled across borders and sold 18 times from one pimp to the next. It ends 11 months later when  police along Italy's Adriatic coast rescue the weeping woman with the miniskirt and bruised legs and arrest her 21-year-old Albanian captor.




Pakistan court frees five alleged attackers in gang rape

Saeed Shah in Lahore, The Guardian, 21 April 2011

[accessed 22 April 2011]

Mai's ordeal began after her 13-year-old brother was accused by a more powerful clan of having sex with one of their young women. He was then sodomised in a sugar cane field by the woman's brother, Abdul Khaliq, and two other men. There appears to be no basis for the original accusation.

A tribal council was assembled from Khaliq's clan, which ordered that Mai be punished for her brother's illicit sex by being raped, on the basis of eye-for-an-eye justice. Mai was forced at gunpoint by Khaliq into a stable, where he and other clan members raped her. She was then paraded naked around the village. Tradition dictated that Mai commit suicide, as the shame supposedly fell on her, but she decided to fight her tormentors.

The cruelty of Mai's case is repeated in the treatment of women across the country, with tribal councils regularly ordering young girls to be handed over in compensation for crimes committed by other family members, and women to be killed for "honour".




The New Slavery: An Interview with Kevin Bales

The Sun, October 2001

[accessed 15 December 2010]

[accessed 11 February 2018]

Bales: Debt bondage is the most common form of slavery in the world today, particularly in Pakistan and India. It’s also illegal, but tends to be a little more adaptable to modern economics. Here’s how it works: A person borrows some money and pledges his or her labor as collateral against that loan. The length and nature of the service are not defined, and the profits from the slave’s labor don’t reduce the original debt: that money automatically belongs to the person who made the loan in the first place.

Jensen: So if you’re a debt-bonded slave, you’re not working to pay back the loan?

Bales: No, because you and all of your labor have become collateral. The money to pay back the loan has to come from somewhere else. That’s the way it is with most debt bondage. In some debt bondage, the work is supposedly paying back what’s been borrowed, but in reality it’s almost impossible to pay back the debt. I’ve met families in India who’ve been bonded for four generations on one debt: Great-grandfather borrowed thirty dollars, and Great-grandson is still working to pay it off. In a sense, this resembles chattel slavery, because it’s passed down through generations, except the rationale for the slavery is the debt.



Papua New Guinea

When the Bartered Bride Opts Out of the Bargain

Seth Mydans, "A Bartered Bride’s ‘No’ Stuns Papua New Guinea: Rejection of Tribal Customs is a Sign of Changing Times," New York Times, 7 May 1997

[accessed 6 February 2016]

The compensation demand for the killing of a clan leader in this remote mountain village followed a complex tribal calculus: $15,000, 25 pigs and an 18-year-old woman named Miriam Wilngal.

Miriam Wilngal said no.

At first, she said, it had not occurred to her to object. Women have been bought as brides in parts of this Pacific island nation for centuries. It has been only a few decades since the tribes that populate the remote mountains here discovered that they are not the only people on earth, and village life still mostly follows ancient codes.

But in a striking sign of changing times, Miss Wilngal had a personal ambition. She wanted to finish high school. ''I want to learn to be a typist,'' she said in an interview in Port Moresby, the capital, 300 miles to the southeast, where she has taken refuge from her angry relatives.



South Africa

Women sold into prostitution by gamblers

Tash Reddy, Independent Online (IOL) News, October 22 2005

[accessed 23 December 2010]

Women married to compulsive gamblers are being raped or forced into prostitution by loan sharks after being used as collateral by their addicted husbands.  And the lack of action by the KZN Gambling Board, among others, is exacerbating the problem.


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