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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                           

Republic of China (Taiwan)

Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy with gradually decreasing government guidance of investment and foreign trade. In keeping with this trend, some large, state-owned banks and industrial firms have been privatized. Exports have provided the primary impetus for industrialization. The island runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are among the world's largest.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Taiwan

Taiwan is primarily a destination for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. To a far lesser extent, it is a source of women trafficked to Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States for sexual exploitation and forced labor, as well as a transit area for People’s Republic of China (PRC) citizens seeking to enter the United States illegally, some of whom may become victims of debt bondage and forced prostitution. Most trafficking victims are workers from rural areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, employed through recruitment agencies and brokers to perform low-skilled work in Taiwan’s construction, fishing, and manufacturing industries, or to work as domestic workers.   NGOs continued to report an increase in the number of boys rescued from prostitution, mainly discovered during police investigations of online social networking sites suspected of fronting for prostitution rings.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later 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 Taiwan.  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

Ministry of Interior
10 85 32 18 34
Country code: 886



Editorial: The human cost of cheap labor

Taipei Times, Jul 08, 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

The trafficking scene in Taiwan revolves largely around Southeast Asian and Chinese workers. In addition, legal immigrants can end up illegals susceptible to rights abuses.

Many foreigners take up legal employment, but leave their jobs for various reasons, including mistreatment by employers who ignore contracts and labor rights, the promise of earning better wages, and trickery by criminal rings.  As a result, many foreign workers end up in deplorable and inhuman working conditions, of which forced prostitution is perhaps the most widely known and condemned.

But it would be unfair to discuss trafficking without mentioning the disturbing context that allows it to flourish. The tragic reality of poverty abroad, combined with the vast market here for cheap labor and prostitution, is what drives human trafficking. Each and everyone in a privileged land who for his or her own comfort and economic benefit takes advantage of cheap labor at the cost of human rights, contributes to the victimization of workers not protected by the same rights we take for granted.

Taiwan cracks human-trafficking ring, rescues 35 Indonesian women

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (German Press Agency) DPA, Taipei, 21 Mar 2007

[accessed 29 August 2014]


According to police, the ring arranged for the Indonesian women to come to Taiwan in arranged marriages, but turned them into slaves after they had arrived on the island.  'They would confiscate the Indonesian women's passports and force them to work in factories, sometimes for up to 18 hours a day, and hand over part of the salary to the human traffickers,' Lai Ching- tzung, spokesman for the Keelung Police Bureau, told reporters

Luciana, one of the victims, said she did not know it was a trick because she had a bona fide wedding with her Taiwanese husband in Indonesia.  'But after he had brought me to Taiwan, he vanished, and the criminal ring forced me to work in a factory in central Taiwan,' she said on TV.

The Plight Of Vietnamese Women

Nguoi Viet , Commentary, New America Media, Hoi Trinh, Apr 02, 2005

[accessed 28 August 2011]

[accessed 26 February 2019]

There are, at present, around 200,000 Vietnamese women in Taiwan.  Most of them are 17- and 18-year-old girls trying to escape poverty by agreeing to marry Taiwanese men of various shapes and sizes. These grooms may be old and crippled.  Even when the girls’ families end up with only $500 most of the brides said that they would still do it again despite their black years in Taiwan.  They would do it for their peasant families in rural Viet Nam, leaving aside the cosmic question of how one could practically sell oneself for a mere $500.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Taiwan

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

[accessed 28 June 2021]


Forced labor occurred primarily in sectors reliant on migrant workers including domestic services, fishing, farming, manufacturing, meat processing, and construction. Some labor brokers charged foreign workers exorbitant recruitment fees and used debts incurred from these fees in the source country as tools of coercion to subject the workers to debt bondage (see section 7.e.).

Migrant fishermen reported senior crewmembers employ coercive tactics such as threats of physical violence, beatings, withholding of food and water, retention of identity documents, wage deductions, and noncontractual compulsory sharing of vessel operational costs to retain their labor. These abuses were particularly prevalent in Taiwan’s large distant-waters fishing fleet, which operated without adequate oversight (see section 7.e.).


County and city labor bureaus effectively enforced minimum age laws by ensuring the implementation of compulsory education.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 7 May 2020]


Over 600,000 foreign migrants work in Taiwan, with many employed as domestic workers and fishermen who are not covered by the Labor Standards Act, excluding them from minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave protections. Foreign migrant workers are consequently at substantial risk of exploitation, as indicated by widespread accounts of unpaid wages, poor working conditions, physical and sexual abuse, and extortion and fraud by recruitment and brokerage agencies. To address the problem, the legislature passed amendments to the Employment Services Act in 2018, requiring employment agencies to swiftly report abuses against migrant workers or face severe fines.

Legislation to impose stricter worker protections on fishing companies took effect in 2017. However, labor advocates report poor implementation, citing ongoing mistreatment and abuse of foreign fishermen on Taiwanese vessels.

Officials crack down on human trafficking ring

Staff writer, with Central News Agency CNA, Taipei Times, 10 Oct 2008

[accessed 28 December 2010]

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) recently cracked down on a Taiwanese human trafficking ring that was smuggling children from China to the US using passports purchased from Taiwanese parents.

In its investigation, the agency discovered that the crime ring had bought the identity of Taiwanese children from parents who were in financial difficulty.

The parents sold their children’s IDs for NT$90,000 each, the agency said.   The investigators had discovered that the crime ring employed the strategy seven times in the first half of this year, smuggling 18 children to the US.

Human trafficking still a problem in Taiwan

Staff writer, with Central News Agency CNA, Taipei Times, Washington, 13 Mar 2008

[accessed 28 December 2010]

On human trafficking, Taiwan was primarily a destination for Southeast Asian and Chinese nationals trafficked into forced labor or sexual exploitation, the report said. There were numerous reports of women -- mainly from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand -- being forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade after receiving fraudulent offers of employment or marriage from dishonest labor or marriage brokers, the report said.

On abuse of foreign workers, brokers and employers regularly impose high brokerage fees and other charges on foreign workers, frequently using the debt as a tool for involuntary servitude, the report said.

Victims to get job skills training

Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, 8 December 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Zhang cited a case she had worked on recently as an example.  "Six Vietnamese women came to Taiwan as migrant workers," Zhang said. "Although the broker in Vietnam told them they would be preparing food at a lunch box factory, they were sold into the sex industry instead."  Although they were considered by police and prosecutors as victims, "they were not treated as victims," Zhang said.

Southern Africa: Human Trafficking Concern for 2010

Tonya Graham, Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, 29 November 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Human trafficking is a pervasive global problem, and strong laws are vital to preventing and prosecuting it, as well as caring for survivors. Take the case of Mary Jiang* who left her home in Vietnam to go and work in Taiwan, anticipating a good job with a salary that would give her the chance to improve her life and that of her family.  However, when she arrived she found the promises were false, and she suffered inhuman treatment by her employers who forced her to work gruelling 16-hour days. When one of the 20 machines she worked on at once caught Jiang's hand, she waited 45 minutes before her hand was freed, suffering sever injuries.  After two days in hospital her employers told her to sign some forms, they were taking her to a better hospital. Once signed, they took her back to a company building and locked her in a small, dirty room.

Bill to combat human trafficking

Staff writer, with Central News Agency CNA, Taipei Times, 22 Jul 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

NEW APPROACH - To stop the sale of human beings, academics said that criminal law is important but not enough. Rescuing victims must also be part of the plan.

Holiday project focuses on sex crimes, trafficking

Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, 12 July 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Sun, who is one of these prosecutors, spoke about two cases that she has worked on.  In one case, a young woman from China was brought to Taiwan under the guise of a fake marriage. While she was here, she was kept in a small hotel and all her ID documents were confiscated by the traffickers, Sun said.  In addition to a trafficking fee of around NT$300,000 (US$9,000), she also had to pay a NT$30,000 monthly fee to her fake husband, who forced her into prostitution to pay off her debts, Sun said.  In another case, a young student was sold into prostitution by a "friend" that she met online, Sun said.

Human trafficking likely to worsen, experts claim

Max Hirsch, Taipei Times, 13 April 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

But the charities helping exploited foreign laborers and prostitutes say that treating trafficked foreigners with care is exactly what Taiwan isn't doing.

Le My-nga, policy and planning director at the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office in Taoyuan County, said local immigration authorities "still criminalize [trafficked] victims" and "aren't addressing the root causes of human trafficking."

"They're still in damage control mode," she said, referring to the attitude of immigration officials since 2005, when the US added Taiwan to a "watch list" for countries that aren't doing enough to combat human trafficking.

Trafficking victims detained for protection

The China Post, 24 March 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Taiwan has been a common target of human smuggling operations originating from countries in southeast Asia and mainland China, often under the guise of marriages to Taiwan citizens.  On Wednesday, 51 suspects were arrested in Keelung for smuggling Indonesian girls into Taiwan using false marriage certificates.

Police rescued 35 Indonesian girls, who were arranged by the human smuggling ring to work in small restaurants and as caregivers for families who could not hire legal foreign caregivers.  The girls said that they had to work 18 hours a day with no days off, and said that they were beaten when they did not obey orders from the ring leaders.

Group urges aid for trafficking victims

Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, 2 March 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Some labor trafficking victims enter Taiwan and work illegally because of false information from traffickers, Gau said.  Other victims could have entered the country to work legally but become victims of abuse, and then runaway to escape the abuse, thereby breaking their contracts and the law, she said.  Since there is no law that specifically addresses human trafficking, its victims are usually treated as lawbreakers, Gau said.

Public awareness of rise in human trafficking is low

Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times, 23 January 2007

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Human-rights activist Reverend Peter Nguyen Van Hung, a 48-year-old priest, told the stories of some of the victims that he had worked with.

There was the case of a 19-year-old Vietnamese man who signed a contract to work in Tai-wan as a caretaker and promised to pay US$5,000 to the broker.  After arriving in Taiwan, however, the Vietnamese man was sent to work in a factory. The broker took his salary each month as payment for his debt. Seven months later, the Vietnamese died in an accident.  "He didn't even get a cent [from his salary]," Nguyen said.

Another girl approached Nguyen once, telling him that her employer had raped her repeatedly.  When Nguyen offered her help, she turned it down because she was afraid of retaliation from her employer.  "She went back, knowing she would be raped again that night," Nguyen said.

Nguyen has run a human trafficking victim shelter in Taoyuan County since 2004. Among the 80,000 Vietnamese migrant workers and 100,000 Vietnamese brides in Taiwan, an average of 8 to 10 of them went to Nguyen for help every month last year.

Taiwan's human trafficking issue

Editorial by Sandy Yeh, President of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, Taipei Times, 26 November 2006

[accessed 28 December 2010]

Police in Taoyuan recently announced they had busted a smuggling ring run by a former national taekwondo athlete who had brought young women into Taiwan from southeast Asian countries and China under the pretense of arranged marriages but then forced them into prostitution. One of the women was an AIDS patient from Indonesia who has been in Taiwan for five years and had engaged in unprotected sex with customers more than 10,000 times.

Some victims are forced to become sex workers without receiving any compensation. Instead they must deal with strict supervision and the threat of violence. Foreign laborers are conscripted into long-term commitments, swapped between employers without warning, never receive any pay and are always at risk of being turned into sex workers

Taiwan must combat human trafficking

Taiwan News, 29 November 2005

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

[accessed 12 September 2011]

For example, the number of women from Southeast Asian, especially Vietnam and Cambodia, who are brought to Taiwan as "brides" but rapidly forced into prostitution shortly after "marriage" has surged sharply in the past two years.  In addition, many women from the PRC are smuggled into Taiwan for exploitation in the prostitution under promises of employment.

Stopping an 'Epidemic' -- Vietnamese Priest Reaches Out to Sex Trafficking Victims

Pacific News Service, by the Rev. Nguyen Van Hung, as told to Andrew Lam, Posted: Aug 02, 2005

[accessed 26 August 2011]

[accessed 19 February 2018]

Vietnam signed a labor treaty with Taiwan in 1999, and that opened up a new route for desperate Vietnamese looking for work. But it also exacerbated the exploitation problem. Currently we are providing shelter for overseas female workers from Vietnam who have been victims of rape and sexual assaults by their employers, or who were tricked into prostitution and managed to escape from the brothels.

NGOs key players in stamping out trafficking

Taiwan News, 17 June 2005

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

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Taiwan has the dubious distinction of being a major importer of women for sexual exploitation, with a recently released report by the U.S. Department of State downgrading Taiwan from "tier one" to "tier two," signaling that the island has not even met the lowest requirements for protecting victims of trafficking.

2005 World of Children Awards Winners Announced

World of Children, Nov 10, 2005

[accessed 21 June 2113]

[accessed 5 October 2016]

[accessed 26 February 2019]

Hui-jung Chi of Taiwan, China, received the $100,000 Kellogg's Child Development Award for her lifetime contributions toward helping children learn and grow. Chi, a former journalist, has worked tirelessly for the past 13 years as a child advocate and devotee to social reform in Taiwan. Boldly addressing issues such as child prostitution, domestic violence and sexual abuse, Chi's voice has compelled the government of Taiwan to take action. As a result, the anti child-prostitution law was passed, helping keep an estimated 13,000 children out of the sex industry since 1992. Chi also initiated the revitalization of the Garden of Hope Foundation in 1992, transforming one shelter into a network of counseling centers, short-term emergency shelters, and long-term halfway houses that provide outreach and job programs, and advocacy services. Chi's work has directly benefited the lives of 100,000 children in Taiwan and has spread to New York City where a Garden of Hope has been established.

Online auctions the new frontier for human trafficking

Radio Australia Interview, 26 March 2004

[accessed 28 August 2011]

[accessed 19 February 2018]

It's been billed as the world's biggest marketplace...eBay, where if you're on-line, all you need is a credit-card and you can buy almost anything. But there are questions now about the merits of trading this way....after eBay was forced to halt an auction and pull details from its site, when it emerged that the goods for sale were in fact alive and human.

Rights Group Sues E-Bay, Taipei Chef over Vietnamese Women

Radio Free Asia RFA, 2004.04.08

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

[accessed 12 September 2011]

A Taiwan -based women's rights group has filed a lawsuit against the U.S.-based auction Web site e-Bay and a Taipei chef who offered three Vietnamese women for sale under laws prohibiting human trafficking. Meanwhile, a Taiwan police Internet crime committee has ruled that the man engaged in matchmaking, not human trafficking.

In The Press -- Crime/Organized Crime

Agence France Presse AFP, Dateline Taipei, 27 August 2004

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

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[scroll down to AUGUST 27, 2004 - TAIWAN CAPTAIN GETS DEATH SENTENCE FOR PUSHING CHINESE WOMEN OFF BOAT - Taiwan's supreme court upheld a death sentence for Wang Chung-hsiung, the boat captain convicted of drowning six mainland Chinese women.  Wang and Ko Ching-sung, a crew member, pushed the women into the sea in August 2003 when their smuggling boat was spotted by a Taiwan's coast guard patrol. Ko has received a life sentence.  Many mainland women are attracted to Taiwan's lucrative sex industry and attempt to reach the island via human smugglers.

Potential for Trafficking by Marriage Brokers Called Serious

U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, 14 July 2004

[accessed 29 August 2014]

CORRUPTION AS A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR - NGOs and other sources provide anecdotal evidence of this connection. Recent reports reveal trafficking of women from Vietnam to Taiwan through which Vietnamese women were married legally to Taiwanese men they did not know until they were transported to Taiwan. In these cases, marriage brokers appear to be used — advertising and recruiting women who seek a foreign marriage as a means to improve their lives, only to be forced into sexual servitude in brothels in Taiwan.

Precursors and pathways to adolescent prostitution in Taiwan

Shu-Ling Hwang & Olwen Bedford, Journal of Sex Research, Vol 40, No 2 (May, 2003) pp 201-210

[accessed 4 September 2012]

Indentured juvenile prostitution is a cultural legacy for Taiwanese lower-class families dating back to early immigrants from China of Chinese decent (Han Chinese) in the 18th century. Common motives for Han parents to indenture their daughters were survival, emergency needs, and debts from gambling (Chiou, 1999; Hong, 2001; Hsieh, 1972). Girls as young as 7 were either directly indentured into brothels or sold off to adoptive families who intended to sell them into prostitution. Former prostitutes were among those who adopted girls to pass on their profession and to ensure income for old age (Chiou, 1999; Hsieh, 1972).

Dossier childhood and preadolescence's condition - CHAPTER 2 - the difficulties and the abuse

Rai Social Action Department, 2002

[accessed 28 December 2010]

POINT 12 - YOKOHAMA: THE STARTING OR DEPARTURE POINT? - Every year, approx. one million minors, mainly between the ages of 13 and 18, are introduced to the sex trade. The problem is common in countries both in the north and south of the world: 100,000 in the Philippines, 400,000 in India, 100,000 in Taiwan, 200,000 in Thailand, between 244,000 and 325,000 in the United States, 100,000 in Brazil, 35,000 in western Africa, 175,000 in eastern and central Europe. The observers report a worrying drop in the age of these sexually exploited minors who are mostly little girls.


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 7 May 2020]


Over 600,000 foreign migrants work in Taiwan, with a substantial number working as domestic helpers and fishermen; most come from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. Foreign domestic workers and fishermen are not covered by Taiwan’s Labour Standards Act, meaning they are excluded from its minimum wage, overtime, and paid leave protections. As a result, foreign workers in these and other fields are at substantial risk of exploitation, with widespread accounts of unpaid wages, poor working conditions, and physical and sexual abuse, as well as extortion and fraud at the hands of recruitment and brokerage agencies. A 2016 law eliminated a requirement that foreign workers leave the country between employment contracts, and in September 2017 the government announced draft amendments to the Employment Services Act that would help combat employer abuses against migrant workers.

Legislation adopted in 2016 to establish stricter rules and stronger punishments regarding worker exploitation by Taiwanese fishing companies took effect in early 2017. However, labor advocates and international monitors have accused government agencies of poor implementation, citing ongoing mistreatment and abuse of foreign fishermen on Taiwanese vessels. The government has said that it remains committed to addressing the situation. In September, for instance, officials filed charges against 19 people for human trafficking and deprivations of personal liberty involving the alleged abuse of 81 foreign fishermen.

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 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONSNGOs reported that fraudulent marriages were increasingly used as a vehicle for human trafficking, in part because the penalties for the fake husbands were lenient. Foreign brides, mainly from the PRC, but also increasing numbers of women from Vietnam, were lured to Taiwan by marriage brokers, only to be forced into prostitution or exploitive labor. Many incidents of physical and mental abuse have been reported in the media and by NGOs.

Labor trafficking was a problem. NGOs reported that families hired female foreign workers to care for elderly persons (for which the government provides subsidies to families) but that when the workers arrived they were forced to do other tasks, including: childcare, working in family shops or businesses, cleaning houses, and helping other family members with domestic work. In other cases, foreign laborers were hired overseas as domestic workers but then sent to work in factories when they arrived and paid only a fraction of the local prevailing wage. Penalties for such violations were light. In one case, an inspector discovered a domestic caretaker was working in the employer's flour factory. The inspector returned the foreign worker to the employer's family and fined the employer $1 thousand (NT$30 thousand). The employer was allowed to continue using the foreign worker as a housekeeper. Labor authorities remove an employer's right to hire domestic caretakers only after a third offense.

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