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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                    


Kazakhstan, the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia, possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. Kazakhstan's industrial sector rests on the extraction and processing of these natural resources.

The country has embarked upon an industrial policy designed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the oil sector by developing its manufacturing potential. The policy changed the corporate tax code to

Description: Description: Description: Kazakhstan

favor domestic industry as a means to reduce the influence of foreign investment and foreign personnel.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Kazakhstan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan trafficked to Russia and the UAE for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in the construction and agricultural industries. Women from Kazakhstan are trafficked to China and Turkey for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Kazakhstan is a destination country for a significant number of Uzbek men, women, and girls trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, including domestic servitude and forced labor in the tobacco, cotton, and meat processing industries. Men, women, and children are trafficked internally for the purposes of forced labor and forced prostitution. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Kazakhstan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
7172 790345
Country code: 7-



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.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kazakhstan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 13 June 2021]


Migrant workers were considered most at risk for forced or compulsory labor. In 2019 according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 1.6 million persons were registered as migrants in the country. The majority of migrant workers came from Uzbekistan, but there were also lesser numbers from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Migrant workers found employment primarily in agriculture and construction.


Sporadic instances of children working below the country’s minimum age of employment were reported in agriculture, including producing vegetables, weeding, and collecting worms; in construction; in the markets and streets, including transporting and selling items; in domestic work; in gas stations, car washing, and working as bus conductors; or as waiters in restaurants. There were no reports of child victims of forced labor in the sectors noted above, nor was there evidence of children being compelled or forced into such work through slavery, debt bondage, or trafficking for purposes of labor exploitation

In October media reported cotton harvesters in the country and stated they have a lack of workers, who are normally supplied by neighboring Uzbekistan. Because of this, farmers have been reliant on employing children and teenagers to work in cotton fields. Schoolchildren were spotted in fields in the Maktaaral and Zhetisay districts of the southern Turkestan region. Local farmers are traditionally aided by migrant workers from Uzbekistan, but that labor supply was interrupted by travel restrictions imposed to contain the two countries’ COVID-19 outbreaks. These forms of labor were determined by local legislation to be potentially hazardous and categorized as the worst forms of child labor. The majority of such situations occur on family farms or in family businesses.

There were 10 instances of children being used in hazardous activities, including one case of trafficking in minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation, five cases of the coercion of minors into prostitution, two cases of the engagement of minors into pornographic activities, and two cases of violation of labor legislation related to the engagement of children in works that are not allowed for children younger than age 18. In the last case, two boys (ages 13 and 15) died of carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping overnight in the cafe where they worked as waiters.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 30 April 2020]


Migrant workers from neighboring countries often face poor working conditions and a lack of effective legal safeguards against exploitation. Both migrants and Kazakhstani workers from rural areas are vulnerable to trafficking for the purposes of forced labor and prostitution in large cities. The authorities reportedly make little effort to assist foreign victims of trafficking.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 30 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 560]

Children in Kazakhstan engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in cotton harvesting and commercial sexual exploitation. (1; 2; 3; 4; 5)

There is no current and comprehensive research on child labor in Kazakhstan that can provide details about the number of children working in different sectors, the nature of their work, and the hazards involved.

EU Presses Russia on Human Trafficking

Vladimir Kovalev, February 23, 2007 – Source: Transitions Online—Intelligent Eastern Europe

[accessed 30 August 2012]

Like many struggling young people in the former Soviet republics, 17-year-old Maryam dreamed of a better life. She thought she was on her way to one when she decided to leave her native Kazakhstan to work as a shop assistant in Russia.

Maryam said she was lured into the trap by a man named Dastan, who paid her parents $300, gave her a false passport, and accompanied her to Samara, a central Russian city with a population of 1.3 million people. Her story is among those included in a report by the Geneva-based International Labor Organization (ILO) on human trafficking, released at the end of 2005.

Atyrau authorities plan to prevent human trafficking

Andrey Sokolov, Kazinform National Information Agency, July 14, 2006

[accessed 16 February 2011]

Presentation of plan of measures on struggle and prevention of crimes connected with human trafficking for 2006-2008 took place in the Atyrau oblast (a region of Kazakhstan).Local authorities plan to hold actions with the help of mass media in order to raise public awareness, arrange seminars and so on. They also intend to strengthen control over illegal migration of foreign citizens to the region, check activity of employment agencies and organizations rendering services to the population on preparation of documents of Kazakhstan’s citizens leaving abroad.

Kazakhstan Ups Efforts To Combat Human Trafficking

Hellenic Resources Institute HR-Net, January 14, 2005

[accessed 16 February 2011]

12 criminal cases were opened under the Criminal Code's "human trafficking" statute in 2004, twice as many as in 2003, and five channels for trafficking Kazakh citizens abroad for sexual and other exploitation were identified and blocked in 2004.

Forced Labour In The Russian Federation Today: Irregular Migration And Trafficking In Human Beings [PDF]

Elena Tyuryukanova, International Labour Office, ILO, Geneva, September 2005

ISBN 92-2-117840-4 (print),  ISBN 92-2-117841-2 (web pdf)

[accessed 16 February 2011]


[page 108]  CASE 2 -  A 16-year old girl from Kazakhstan was sold by her parents. Her documents were forged and she was subsequently a victim of fraud, physical and sexual coercion, physical restraint and threats. The interview took place in Omsk.  There were six children in our family. I am the second. There [in Kazakhstan] people live in poverty, lacking electricity and water. Sometimes we didn’t even have bread at home. My mother made ends meet by occasional earnings, and my father spent everything on drink. I was thinking about how to get out of this situation, to help my brothers and sisters and do something for myself. And I met a man by chance. He proposed that I could earn money at market. He came to my parents - I am underage - and proposed that I work at a market in Smara. He paid money to my parents so that they would let me go to Samara.

[page 110]  CASE 3 -  An 18-year old woman from Kazakhstan was trafficked to Russia where she was subject to physical and sexual violence, coercion to perform sexual services, physical restraint and threats. The interview took place in Omsk.  I lived in Kazakhstan in a big family of 12 children. We lived in poverty. We were even happy to drink water with bread. My mother worked at a grocery and earned little. My father drank all the time, and beat my younger sisters and brothers. My youngest brother, who is eight, collected bottles for money. It was a horrifying situation.

Kazakhstan Plans Tougher Punishment for Human Trafficking

News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the USA and Canada, Vol. 1, No. 31, July 7, 2004

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

[3rd article]  KAZAKHSTAN PLANS TOUGHER PUNISHMENT FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING - One of the problems authorities face is the natural desire of victims to stay anonymous. This is where the recently created “crisis centers” come in to play. People come with their problems these centers more often then they do to law enforcement agencies. The cooperation between the police and the crisis centers is crucial in thwarting modern-day slavery, officials said.

Corruption is Limiting Kazakhstan’s Efforts Against Human Trafficking

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, June 02, 2004

[accessed 11 July 2013]

Michael Chance, the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kazakhstan, told Radio Free Europe that corrupt officials are limiting the effectiveness of Kazakhstan’s efforts to combat human trafficking.  According to official figures, 110 cases against people alleged to be involved in trafficking were initiated in the first three months of 2004, only eight cases were opened in all of 2003. The IOM official said, however, that few traffickers have been punished because those involved in the trade have enough money to bribe investigators.

Voice of Democracy

Kazakhstan 21st Century Foundation, Washington, D.C., Aug. 14, 2003

[Last access date unavailable]

NOW SHOW YOU MEAN IT - In the face of criticism from a number of international human rights groups, President Nazarbayev has signed legislation tightening prohibitions on trafficking in human beings, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. Government officials say the problem has become acute, with Kazakh citizens falling into the hands of traffickers when they abroad in search of work, and the country itself has been a transit route for trafficked persons. After drugs and weapons, human trafficking is the third most profitable crime in Kazakhstan, according to Khabar.Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan Attacks Human Trafficking

Elina Karakulova, Kazakhstan Daily Digest, 31 July 2003, Web. 9 Sept. 2009

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Dospolov said that the State Department assertion was based partly on the fact that no sentences were handed down in 2002 for crimes related to human trafficking, but he argued that such crimes can be difficult to investigate because the victims are sent abroad.

U.S. Lauds Kazakhstan for Actions Against Human Trafficking

News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the USA and Canada, Vol. 3, No. 11, Sept 10, 2003

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

[accessed 7 September 2011]

The White House has notified the U.S. Congress that Kazakhstan made "significant steps to fight trafficking in persons" and given recognition to Astana for its efforts in this area.  In a September 10 statement from the White House press secretary, Kazakhstan was said to "deserve recognition for their quick action to address problems noted in the Department of State's June 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report."

US Human Trafficking Report Faults Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, August 20, 2003

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

Kazakhstan received a Tier 3 designation largely because of authorities’ diminished response to the human trafficking issue over the past year. Though Kazakh law forbids "illicit migration" and officials investigated several reports of trafficking, no cases have yet gone to court. However the reported noted that the government "presented to Parliament long-awaited draft anti-trafficking legislation, which passed the lower house of Parliament on May 15."

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[45] The Committee notes the existence of the National Board on Adoption and of regulations for organizations involved in domestic and inter-country adoption.  However, taking into account the very large number of abandoned children, the Committee is concerned at the lack of a comprehensive policy regarding domestic and inter-country adoption, including effective monitoring and follow-up of adoptions.

[72] The Committee is concerned at:        (a) The growing involvement of children in the sex industry and the apparent indifference of society towards the issue of child prostitution, including reports of parents themselves reportedly forcing their children to earn money through prostitution;  (b) The lack of specialized centres to accommodate and provide qualified services, including psychotherapeutic and rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, for child victims of sexual violence.

The Protection Project - Kazakhstan

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

[accessed 22 February 2016]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 victims are trafficked annually from Kazakhstan.  Estimates by local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Kazakhstan are even more striking. One NGO has estimated that 70,000 women have been trafficked out of the country in the 10 years since its independence; this number includes only those women who managed to return home—the number of those who are still enslaved or who died in the hands of traffickers is unknown. This estimate amounts to roughly 1 percent of the total female population in Kazakhstan.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 16 February 2011]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Traffickers targeted young women in their teens and 20s for sexual exploitation. According to NGOs, most women were recruited with promises of good jobs or marriage abroad. Travel, employment, and marriage agencies often recruited victims through advertisements promising lucrative jobs abroad. Offers to participate in international beauty contests also were used. Previously trafficked women reportedly recruited new victims personally. Many trafficking victims appeared to be aware or at least to suspect that they were going to work as prostitutes, but did not expect to work in slave‑like conditions. Most trafficked persons traveled to their destinations on forged passports obtained abroad, most often from Russia or the Kyrgyz Republic.

Adolescents raised in orphanages, regardless of gender, and residents of rural and economically disadvantaged areas were particularly vulnerable to being trafficked. The country's relative prosperity otherwise served as a factor against citizens being trafficked through seeking employment abroad. During the year an orphanage director in the southern part of the country was caught attempting to traffic teenage girls to the UAE. The highly publicized case remained ongoing at year's end.

Men and women were trafficked to the country for labor exploitation; some evidence also suggested children were trafficked from Uzbekistan for agriculture and domestic labor. Officials often did not discriminate between illegal labor migrants and victims of trafficking. There were credible reports of organized criminal trafficking rings bringing construction laborers to Astana. Employers and trafficking accomplices usually held trafficked workers' passports during their stay in the country. Victims reported traffickers used debt bondage, violence, or threats of violence to compel them to work.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 16 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Reports also indicate a rise in the number of children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, pornography and drug trafficking in urban areas.  Children working as domestic servants are often invisible and, for this reason, also vulnerable to exploitation.  Kazakhstan is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor.  Girls in their teens are one of the primary targets for trafficking from Kazakhstan to other countries.  Internal trafficking from rural to urban areas also occurs.

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