Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Lecture Resources


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Prostitution - Adult


Antigua & Barbuda

Assessing human trafficking in Antigua and Barbuda


[access date unavailable]

The victims identified by the US in Antigua and Barbuda’s case were women trafficked from Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced domestic servitude.   The report further stated that well-financed businessmen who act as pimps and brothel owners traffic women into the four main, illegal brothels that operate in Antigua, as well as to private residences that operate as brothels

In its assessment of Antigua and Barbuda, the TIP 2009 Report indicated that brothel managers confiscated passports and threatened women with deportation until they repay the brothel owner for travel and other expenses. Pointing to systemic causes, the report further stated that some victims trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation had been given work permits as "entertainers" to legally enter the country.   The reality is that victims enter the country both legally and illegally. They hold legitimate documents authorising them to work in various fields

However, it is important to note that not all women and men brought in to Antigua and Barbuda or transported throughout the Caribbean to work within the sex trade are victims of human trafficking. For many, sex work is a choice, albeit a quite complicated and socially and economically complex one.




Paying for Servitude: Trafficking in Women for Prostitution in Australia

Kathleen Maltzahn, 2004 International Women’s Day Pamela Denoon Lecture, March 4, 2004

[accessed 19 January 2011]

Traffickers routinely respond to women’s initial complaints, including their requests to return home, with sexual, physical and psychological violence. Threats can include something as subtle – I use the term advisedly – as threatening to send a woman’s child a pornographic picture of her. As with women deceived about doing prostitution, this violence aims to teach women that they have no other option, cannot access help and cannot escape. One of the great skills of traffickers is their ability to move beyond simple brute force. In this way, women can be effectively imprisoned with well-applied and strategic physical violence, that may appear minimal to outsiders, cemented by devastating psychological violence. Traffickers engage with women’s psychology. They learn what women value, and work to their strengths and weaknesses. In this, I suspect we can learn something from them. I am sure if government agencies spent more time trying to understand how trafficked women see things, rather than seeing them as problems that don’t understand how we work, we would have more success in challenging trafficking.




Azeri Trafficking Victims Face Social Rejection

Sabina Vaqifqizi - Caucasus, CRS Issue 463, 10 Oct 08

[accessed 20 January 2011]

Esmira fell prey to human traffickers after she confronted a group who had lured one of her sisters.  Her sister had been tricked into an unregistered marriage with one of the traffickers, who had abandoned her when she became pregnant.  “When [my sister] returned, she was afraid to say what had happened to her. I found those who deceived her, but became their prey as well,” said Esmira.

She told IWPR that when she tackled the traffickers over the treatment of her sister, they forced her to go to Turkey. Her third sister also fell into the hands of traffickers and is still missing, she said.  In Turkey, Esmira was forced to work as a prostitute with other abducted girls and was tortured. She still remembers everything, even though three years have passed.   “They push for what they want. If you do not obey, they torture you by beating you. They force you to do humiliating things. They didn’t pay us anything for the work we did,” she said.

Esmira said she managed to escape with the help of Turkish police.  “One of the workers knew a police officer. He reported the traffickers. They came to the place we stayed in wearing plain clothes and pretending to be customers. The traffickers were arrested right on the spot,” she said.




Slavery Continues in the Form of Forced Prostitution

Ed Vitagliano, News Editor for American Family Association AFA Journal, Agape Press, April 15, 2004

[accessed 26 January 2011]

Psychiatrist Wendy Freed authored a report for Physicians for Human Rights. Her report on the psychological aspects of women trapped in sexual slavery in Cambodia presented this frightening pattern faced by thousands of girls and women:

"The young women have been in captivity for a period of weeks to months or years. Initially there is shock and disbelief. Many young women describe not being able to believe that they had been sold .... Once they realize that in fact they are sold, they fight the brothel owner's demand that they accept customers. Refusal leads to beatings, being locked in a room, and going without food. This persists until the young woman gives up and realizes that indeed they are trapped and have no options .... At some point in this process, the young woman becomes submissive in order to avoid further beatings and torment; her 'spirit is broken.' She surrenders, becomes resigned and accommodates to the circumstances of captivity."




Colombian Hailed as Hero in Fight Against Trafficking in Persons

Brian Kaper, U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, 15 June 2004

[accessed 29 August 2014]

Francisco Sierra, Colombia's ambassador to Japan, has made it his personal goal to stop this trafficking in persons that has taken so many women into forced prostitution. For his efforts, Sierra was recognized by Secretary of State Colin Powell on June 14 as one of six heroes in the fight against an illicit industry that preys upon society's most vulnerable members.

Sierra said the women are told they will find a better life by working in other countries such as Holland, Japan, and Spain, but they most often find themselves trapped into working in brothels to pay off their so-called "transportation" fees; such fees may total as much as $50,000 to $80,000. Sierra said that the women are expected to pay their captors roughly $2,000 every ten days or they will be severely punished.




A Human Trafficking Victim Speaks With RFE/RL

Ankica Barbir Mladinovic, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, June 15, 2006

[accessed 30 January 2011]

"It happened abroad," says Martina, a 29-year-old trafficking victim from Zagreb. "I was sold for 3,500 euros [$4,400]. I was beaten, raped, forced against my will. They would put out cigarette butts on me and cut me with razors.

It was like a horror movie, she says. Martina was 19 years old at that time, trained as a cook. She lived in the suburbs of Zagreb and desired a better job and a better life. She met a young man who told her about his brother who had a restaurant in Italy, but who had a hard time finding good employees.

Martina was locked in a Rome apartment for two months. Instead of working in a restaurant, she was beaten and raped daily until she was “broken” and had become a sexual slave. Then, she says, the man who bought her took her out to the street.




Story of a Georgian Victim of Trafficking

Source: an article, published in "Kviris Palitra" Newspaper of May 7-13, 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 5 September 2011]

They put me in such conditions that I could not refuse their proposal. They were sending me people who delicately and gradually enticed me to the prostitution. But I preferred to return back to Georgia rather accepting this. But they intimidated me, saying that they would offend my family and they would never find jobs if I refuse. They also told me that they'll beat my family members, or poison them and me with gas and that I simply do not have any other choice.




IHF-HR: "A Form of Slavery: Trafficking in Women in OSCE Member States" - Country Reports - GREECE

International Helsinki Federation For Human Rights IHF-HR, July 2000

[accessed 7 February 2011]

[accessed 29 January 2018]

Regarding the coercion of victims, the following methods were uncovered:

O    Their documents are kept in order to stop them from escaping.

O    They are often raped, kept without food or water or unable to use the toilet in order to make them more “willing to cooperate”.  

O    If they come from religious families, offenders threaten to tell the victims’ parents or relatives, even videotapes are secretly made for the purpose of blackmail.

There are seldom injuries or beating that could “spoil” the future exploitation of the woman. Often, women are forced to see over fifty “customers” per day, to the extent that they lose a sense of time and space and lose consciousness. Recently, a thirteen-year-old girl managed to get to the police and escape her imprisonment and torture. She had been brought illegally and forcefully from Albania in order to work as a prostitute. She had been imprisoned for six months.



Hong Kong

Trafficked in China, originally from Bolivia

Oliver Poole. “Young Mother’s Dream of Fast Fortune Ended in Nightmare” South China Morning Post (11 March 1997)

[accessed 8 February 2011]

TESTIMONY OF PATRICIA - From her home in an impoverished village in rural Bolivia, the prospect of quick riches as an escort girl proved impossible to resist for 23-year-old Patricia Suarez.  A neighbor working for a Hong Kong gang suggested the trip, promising the young mother an escape from part-time work as a domestic servant that paid only US $50 (HK $387) a week.  Desperate for money, the former university student left her two-month old baby with her mother and six brothers and sisters—unaware that she was heading for a nightmare trapped in a sleazy underworld.




In Iceland, Our Long-Sought Victory in Battling Human Trafficking

Gudrún Jónsdóttir, Women's Media Center, April 21, 2009

[accessed 17 April 2012]

[accessed 30 January 2018]

On April 17, the last day before Iceland’s parliament adjourned to prepare for elections on April 25, members passed a bill criminalizing the act of buying individuals for purposes of prostitution. Patterned on the Swedish law that addresses the demand fueling the commercial sex industry, the action was hailed as an historic moment in the international struggle against human trafficking.

The entire women´s movement in Iceland joined forces. In 2003 and again this year some 15 NGOs urged members of parliament and the government to consult seriously with women’s groups. An opinion poll taken in 2007 showed that 70 percent of the nation wanted to criminalize the buying of prostitution—including a majority of both women and men and within every political party. Parliamentarian Kolbrun Halldorsdóttir of the Left-Green party took the lead in the debates. When the Left-Greens came into the government two months ago, she became minister of environmental affairs and brokered her power to get the legislation passed.




Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Prostitution: The Israeli Experience

Rochelle Gershuni, Mediterranean Quarterly - Volume 15, Number 4, Fall 2004, pp. 133-146

[accessed 19 August 2014]

THE CHANGE IN ATTITUDE TOWARD TRAFFICKING - With time, as the phenomenon became more prevalent, and its distinguishing characteristics were identified, the attitude changed. Law enforcement agencies began to focus on trafficking as a serious crime distinct from prostitution offenses, and victims began to be viewed first and foremost as victims rather than illegal immigrants. As a consequence, a specific trafficking offense was legislated, law enforcement authorities began to initiate investigations, victims were encouraged to testify against traffickers, and courts began to detain traffickers until the conclusion of the criminal trial against them and to mete out more severe sentences.




Kazak Women Sold as Sex Slaves

Gaziza Baituova, Institute for War & Peace Reporting IWPR correspondent in Taraz - The Women’s Reporting & Dialogue Programme, WPR Issue 2, 17 Nov 05

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[accessed 7 June 2017]

When teenagers Lyuda and Sveta were offered work in Turkey, the promised salary of 400-450 US dollars per month was beyond their wildest dreams.  Little did they know of the horror that awaited them in Turkey where, like increasing numbers of women from the southern regions of the country, they were sold as sex slaves.



Lithuania, Holland & Netherlands

Trafficked to the West

Jill McGivering, BBC News, Lithuania, 9 July 2005

[accessed 18 February 2011]

Last summer, she had been approached by a childhood friend, she told me.  He said he knew someone who was recruiting women to work as prostitutes in Holland.  Prostitution is illegal in Lithuania, but in Holland he said, she would make big money. Trusting him, she agreed.

Within weeks she arrived in Holland - only to find herself a prisoner in a brothel - sold by her friend to a Lithuanian gang.  For months she endured beatings, sexual abuse and a constant stream of clients.




Human Trafficking Stretches Across the Region

Moyiga Nduru, Benoni SA, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, June 23, 2004

[accessed 19 February 2011]

[accessed 22 September 2016]

IOM official Jonathan Martens told a three-day conference which opened in Benoni, near South Africa's main commercial city of Johannesburg, this week (Jun. 22) that the women are promised employment, luxury accommodation, and a payment of between 10,000 and 20,000 dollars. Their passports are confiscated once they arrive in Macau.

Martens said South African traffickers earn around 500 dollars for every woman recruited for prostitution in Macau, which has been labeled the "Las Vegas of Asia" for its numerous casinos and nightclubs. Drugs play a "very big role" in recruitment, he added.

A 23-year-old woman identified as Nicola reported to the IOM that she had met nine other black, white and mixed race South Africans aged 18 to 21 in Macau, who were forcibly prostituted in the former colony.




Revealed: kept in a dungeon ready to be sold as slaves

David Harrison in Skopje, The Telegraph, 27 Nov 2005

[accessed 19 February 2011]

The women, aged 18 to 24, are from across eastern Europe, lured from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria, with promises of good jobs as waitresses, au pairs and dancers.  Instead, they have been forced into modern-day slavery in western Macedonia, locked in the dirty cellar and only summoned upstairs by their masters to perform sexual services for customers who are usually drunk and often violent.  When they were found, the victims, some of whom had been "broken in" as prostitutes in other countries on the way to Macedonia, barely knew where they were. They had no idea what the future held but knew that it was beyond their control.



Mexico / USA

Fooled Into Sex Trafficking: Female Mexican Immigrants in San Antonio, Texas

Guillermo Contreras, Express-News online, 06/02/2007,_texas_.html

[accessed 17 April 2012]

How's $600 to buy what you'd like simply for accompanying men on trips? We can make it happen, al otro lado — on the other side.  That pitch allegedly made by a trio of women sounded like gold to some impressionable teens and a young woman not making much in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  Three girls agreed to be smuggled to the United States in mid-May and once they were in or near San Antonio, they were primped, new clothes were bought for them and they were given English lessons. Their understanding was that they did not have to have sex with the men.

But rather than the glitz they were promised, they were sold in an underground world for prostitution, according to prosecutors and documents filed in federal court Friday.  The girls were delivered to a man in San Antonio referred to in court records as the "boss," who had them strip, inspected their bodies and told them they were going to be having sex with men for up to five years to pay off their smuggling debt.  The "boss" said he had paid $3,000 apiece for two of the girls and said he would pay even more to get them ready for other men, witnesses told investigators, according to their statements. Anyone who fled would die, and their families would also suffer the same fate, the statements said.  - HTUSAMX




Merchants of Misery: Human Trafficking in Moldova [DOC]

Don Hinrichsen, from The State of World Population 2005 report, The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA

[accessed 12 February 2015]

Silvia’s descent into the dark world of trafficking began when a neighbor told the 19-year-old that she could get a good job as a sales girl in Moscow.

Her ‘home’ in Moscow was a grimy hotel in a seedy section of the city. Actually, the entire hotel was a brothel, filled with girls from Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and other former Soviet republics. “At first we were forced to walk the streets in search of clients,” recalls Silvia. “If I didn’t return with clients, I was beaten. We had to work in thin dresses even in the middle of the Russian winter.”

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