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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                              

The Maldives

In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 4.6% in 2005.

Government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries have created a large budget deficit and inflation has picked up sharply, reaching nearly 13% in October 2008 due to high oil and food prices. Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, and increasing employment are the major challenges facing the government.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Maldives

The Maldives is primarily a destination country for migrant workers from Bangladesh and India trafficked into forced labor and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for women trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. An unknown number of the 80,000 foreign workers currently working in the Maldives – primarily in the construction and service sectors –face fraudulent recruitment practices, confinement, confiscation of identity and travel documents, debt bondage, or general slave-like conditions. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a latert country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Maldives.  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.


Human trafficking in the Maldives?

Maldives Dissent, March 8, 2009

[accessed 20 February 2011]

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has in its latest report slammed the country's treatment of migrant workers, warning that the practice of bringing a person in for one job and making them work on another may amount to human trafficking.   Migrant labourers pay as much as 2,000 US Dollars to agents to get into what they think is the lucrative Maldives labour force, only to be hoodwinked into lesser jobs, lesser pay and appalling working conditions. What is even more disturbing is that it is now almost certain that Maldivian government officials and employment agents have profited from this exploitation.

But the dispossessed labourers found themselves in a place that couldn't have been more different to their dreams. Without proper documents they were unable to report to the police and susceptible to exploitation and extortion by unscrupulous Maldivians.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Police accuse RIX of exploiting expats, human trafficking violations

[Cstegory – Labor - Adult ]

Ahmed Aiham, The Edition, 6 July 2020

[accessed 9 July 2020]

Maldives Police Service, on Monday, accused RIX Company Pvt Ltd of human trafficking, as well as exploiting its foreign workers.

Over 200 expatriate workers partook in protests over their employer's failure to pay six months of salary, which culminated in the holding of 13 Maldivian staff hostage at Bodufinolhu, Baa Atoll - an island being developed as a resort property.

Moreover, police noted that the company had sourced trafficked expatriates from various islands and coerced employees to continue working with their wages withheld for long periods of time.

RIX Maldives claimed that it was unable to pay salaries after Seal Maldives' failure to make payments for four months from January 2020 onwards.

The allegations were denied by Seal Maldives, which asserted that it had paid a total of MVR 21,773,338 to RIX Maldives upon completion of the contracted project, although the initial agreement stipulated a payment of MVR 12,332,765. The surplus was attributed to the cost of funding additional work.   Seal Maldives stated that there was no reason obstructing RIX from making payroll, and accused the company of neglect.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Maldives

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

[accessed 15 June 2021]


As of August Maldives Immigration reported the number of documented foreign workers at approximately 117,000. It estimated an additional 63,000 undocumented foreign workers in the country, predominantly men from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. Some of the foreign workers in the country were subject to forced labor in the construction and tourism sectors. Both the LRA and NGOs noted a continuing trend of resorts hiring third party subcontractors to work in departments such as maintenance, landscaping, and laundry services. These subcontractors reportedly hired undocumented migrant workers who received a lower salary, work longer hours, and often experience delays in payment of salaries and work without a legal employment contract. Most victims of forced labor suffered the following practices: debt bondage, holding of passports by employers, fraudulent offers of employment, not being paid the promised salary, or not being paid at all. Domestic workers, especially migrant female domestic workers, were sometimes trapped in forced servitude, in which employers used threats, intimidation, and in some cases sexual violence to prevent them from leaving.


According to the LRA, the MPS and the Ministry of Gender, Family, and Social Services none of the complaints received related to child labor or employment of minors, but the MPS and Ministry of Gender received reports of children engaged in the worst forms of child labor such as being used for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and the transport of drugs for criminal gangs. NGOs reported children were also engaged in forced labor in domestic work.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


The legal framework provides some protections against worker exploitation, including rules on working hours and bans on forced labor. However, migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuses such as debt bondage and withholding of wages. Women and children working in domestic service may also be subject to exploitative conditions.

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 3 May 2020]

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

[page 648]

Although research is limited, there is evidence that children in Maldives engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of trafficking. (1; 2; 3)

No current data are available on child labor in Maldives, and a national survey on child labor has not been conducted. Some girls from Bangladesh and Maldives are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Malé, the capital of Maldives, but evidence of the problem is limited. (3).

The underclass: the dark side of labour migration

[access date unavailable]

ROSY PICTURE - Jeehan says workers are sometimes “given a different picture and find themselves in a situation for which they weren’t prepared. Some get on a plane to go to Malaysia and end up in the Maldives.”   Most workers, she adds, arrive in the country with valid work permits but are abandoned by sponsors and have no other method of renewing their visas. “They don’t purposefully come as illegal workers,” she says. “It’s fraud and no one is accountable.”   It is not hard to come by a story of a construction worker, who lured with a promise of a well-paid job in sunny Maldives, willingly mortgages his house or takes out a second loan to pay between US$2,000 to US$3,000 to a broker to facilitate his travel arrangements as well as secure him a lucrative job.   Instead, many end up living in cramped quarters with low wages, if they are paid at all. Some are stranded at the airport and left to fend for themselves without even their passports in their possession, says Ajwad Ali, permanent secretary of the labour ministry.

The Protection Project - The Maldives [DOC]

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

[accessed 2009]

GOVERNMENT RESPONSES – According to the Maldives government, legislation pertaining to trafficking is unnecessary, because trafficking is not an issue in the country.


Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 10 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law did not prohibit trafficking in persons; however, there were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, through, or within the country.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Child labor was a problem in fishing, small commercial activities, and family enterprises. The Child Protection Unit of the Ministry of Health and Family was responsible for monitoring compliance with the law. The Ministry of Health and Family, the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports, and the Family and Child Protection Unit of Maldives Police Service received complaints of child labor, conducted inquiries, and initiated legal action when necessary.

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