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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                        

Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Uruguay's economy is characterized by an export-oriented agricultural sector, a well-educated work force, and high levels of social spending. After averaging growth of 5% annually during 1996-98, in 1999-2002 the economy suffered a major downturn, stemming largely from the spillover effects of the economic problems of its large neighbors, Argentina and Brazil.

Real GDP fell in four years by nearly 20%, with 2002 the worst year. The unemployment rate rose, inflation surged, and the burden of external debt doubled. Financial assistance from the IMF helped stem the damage. Uruguay restructured its external debt in 2003 without asking creditors to accept a reduction on the principal. Economic growth for Uruguay resumed, and averaged 8% annually during the period 2004-08.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Uruguay

Uruguay is primarily a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Most victims are women and girls trafficked within the country to border and tourist areas for commercial sexual exploitation; some boys are also trafficked for the same purpose. Occasionally, parents facilitate the exploitation of their children in prostitution, and impoverished parents in rural areas have turned over their children for forced domestic and agricultural labor. Lured by false job offers, some Uruguayan women have been trafficked to Spain and Italy for commercial sexual exploitation. - 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 Uruguay.  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
2.916 80 43
Country code: 598-



Child Labour : Various Forms of Child Labour

UNICEF Report 1997 – The State of World’s children SACCS

[accessed 7 January 2011]

Domestic Service - Children in domestic servitude may well be the most vulnerable and exploited children of all, as well as the most difficult to protect. They are often extremely poorly paid or not paid at all, terms and conditions depend on whims and fancies of their employees and take no account of their legal rights; they are deprived of schooling, play and social activity, and emotional support from friends and family. They are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.

The isolationism makes it difficult to discuss exact numbers. Local surveys have however reflected on the gravity of the problem.

·         A survey of domestic workers in Uruguay found that 34% had begun working before they were 14.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Former sex slave leads Uruguay's first march against human trafficking

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Bogota, 30 July 2019

[accessed 31 July 2019]

Ferrini, who said she was ensnared in forced street prostitution after her mother “sold” her, will join hundreds of campaigners in the streets of Montevideo, capital of this nation of 3.5 million where the most common human trafficking involves women and girls forced into sex work.

Ferrini says she was sexually exploited for 37 years on the city streets of Chile, Paraguay and Argentina and in Europe, forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day.

In recent years, women from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela are increasingly being trafficked to Uruguay where they are sexually exploited in bars and brothels, Ferrini said.

Often from poor families, the women are preyed upon by traffickers who pay for their flights and offer false promises of a better life and well-paid jobs in Uruguay.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uruguay

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

[accessed 29 June 2021]


Foreign workers, particularly from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela, were vulnerable to forced labor in agriculture, construction, domestic service, cleaning services, elderly care, wholesale stores, textile industries, agriculture, fishing, and lumber processing. Domestic workers employed in the less-monitored interior of the country were at greater risk of trafficking. Cuban and Venezuelan migrant workers were subject to forced agricultural labor in Canelon Chico, north of Montevideo. Migrant women were the most vulnerable as they were often exposed to sexual exploitation. Foreign workers aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels docked at the Montevideo port and in Uruguay’s waters may have been subjected to abuses indicative of forced labor, including unpaid wages, confiscated identification, a complete absence of medical and dental care, and physical abuse.


The main child labor activities reported in the interior of the country were work on small farms, maintenance work, animal feeding, fishing, cleaning milking yards, cattle roundup, beauty shops, at summer resorts, and as kitchen aids. In Montevideo the main labor activities were in the food industry, including supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and bakeries, and in services, gas stations, customer service, delivery services, cleaning, and kitchen aid activities. Informal-sector child labor continued to be reported in activities such as begging, domestic service, street vending, garbage collection and recycling, construction, and in agriculture and forestry sectors, which were generally less strictly regulated and where children often worked with their families.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Individuals generally enjoy equality of opportunity. The monthly minimum wage was increased in July 2019 from 15,000 pesos ($430) to 15,650 ($450), and is expected to increase again to 16,300 pesos ($465) in 2020, which would be the highest monthly minimum wage in Latin America.

According to reports, the government is not doing enough to combat transnational trafficking, and laws do not prohibit internal trafficking.

Uruguay and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents [PDF]

Martín Marzano Luissi, President National Children’s Institute, Regional Governmental Congress on Sexual Exploitation of Children

[accessed 7 January 2011]

1.1 NATIONAL CHILDREN’S INSTITUTE - BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE AGENCY - Section 1 of the Code of Children defines the National Children’s Institute as “the agency overseeing all aspects of life and welfare of minors from conception until their majority”.  The Institute was created by law 15977 dated 14 September 1988 as a legal decentralized service domiciled at Montevideo.

Third Report on the Situation of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in the Americas 2002 [PDF]

Montevideo, May 2002

[accessed 7 January 2011]

III. AREA OF PROTECTION - The countries were asked if they had recently implemented legal reforms to combat commercial and noncommercial sexual exploitation based on the convention on the Rights of the Child and other international juridical instruments. All the countries responded affirmatively except Uruguay (which has not implemented reforms yet) and Panama which had no information.

Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Raul Ronzoni, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Montevideo, 18 March 1999

[accessed 7 January 2011]

In the only survey of the issue carried out in Uruguay, in October 1998, some 22 percent of those questioned said economic problems were the most relevant factor in this problem.  Gonzalez stated in Uruguay there are no "preventative solutions" underway to combat this type of sexual exploitation.

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 7 January 2011]

[accessed 8 May 2020]

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

CHILD LABOR LAWS AND ENFORCEMENT - Forced or bonded labor, including by children, is prohibited by the Constitution.  The Commercial or Noncommercial Sexual Violence Against Children, Adolescents, and the Handicapped law addresses pornography, prostitution, and trafficking involving minors.  Prison terms for trafficking children in or out of the country or contributing to the prostitution of a child range from 2 to 12 years.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 11 October 1996

[accessed 7 January 2011]

[6] The Committee is concerned at the insufficient measures adopted to harmonize national legislation with the principles and provisions of the Convention, in spite of the fact that international treaties ratified by Uruguay are considered to have a status equal to that of ordinary laws. The Committee is also concerned that new laws have not been enacted to address areas covered by the Convention, including laws on inter-country adoption, the prohibition of child-trafficking and the prohibition of torture


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 PERSONS – The country was a source, destination, and transit point for trafficked persons, and internal trafficking was a problem. Trafficking reportedly occurred primarily to and from Argentina and Brazil across poorly controlled land borders. Based on anecdotal evidence, government and NGO experts estimated that approximately 100 individuals were trafficked in or through the country during the year, but there were no reliable estimates on the number of women engaged in prostitution abroad (generally in Europe, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil) or on the proportion that were induced into prostitution by fraud or were subjected to conditions approaching servitude. Some foreign citizens entered the country to engage in prostitution, but irregular border controls limited the collection of such trafficking statistics. Officials believed that trafficking mostly affected women between the ages of 18 and 24.

In January authorities discovered an alien smuggling ring, which had engineered the illegal entry into the country of more than 100 Chinese citizens, 15 of whom were found to have been subjected to debt bondage. All victims were males between the ages of 20 and 38. Under threat of violence, the victims were forced to work 18 to 20 hours per day on a rice farm while waiting to complete their onward travel to the United States.

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