Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

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The early years of the 21st Century                                                                    

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I was sold into sexual slavery

Elizabeth Day, The Observer, 18 January 2015

[accessed 18 January 2015]

On holiday in Greece as a 14-year-old, Megan Stephens fell in love. But her boyfriend turned out to be a pimp who trafficked her for six years. She tells her story to Elizabeth Day.

Megan’s story is a horrifying one. It is a story of how a vulnerable teenage girl on holiday in Greece with her mother was trafficked into the sex industry and spent six years as a prostitute – in brothels, on the streets, in dingy hotel rooms – before finally making her escape from a life of relentless physical and sexual abuse. It is horrifying not only because of the sadistic violence she endured, but also because of how easily she seemed to slip into this spiral of depravity and how difficult she found it to get out.

Ahsania Mission monitors 40,000 families

[access information unavailable]

Life changed for Zarina (not a real name) when she was separated from her family. '1 got separated from my family when a man took me to Bombay in India promising a good job,' said Zarina, a 16-year-old girl at Krishnapur village of No-2 Lakkhanpur union in Sharsha upazila, Jessore. 'Siddique, an acquaintance, asked me about my family. I told him that life was very difficult as we were very poor. He said that my sister and brother-in-law already agreed to go to Mumbai in India with him because he promised them jobs of Tk 5,000 a month. If I accompany them then I shall also be offered such a lucrative job, Siddique promised. On return home, my sister and brother-in-law said they would try their luck in Mumbai; I should accompany them if I want to change my fate. Thinking helpless condition of day-labourer father, I agreed to their suggestion.'

'One day we set for Mumbai with Siddique'. On arrival in Mumbai, the man sold us to a dance bar owner. 'A few months later, my sister and brother-in-law escaped the 'hell,' but I was forced to stay back to do flesh trade there against my will.

Tales of sex and sadness from inside Britain's oldest profession

Amelia Hill, The Observer, 23 December 2007

[accessed 20 August 2011]

'I'D BEEN DREAMING OF A FUTURE AS A WIFE AND A MOTHER' - ALMA, 26 - Alma (not her real name) fell in love with a man she met in Poland seven months ago. He said he wanted to introduce her to his family. Under this pretence, he ended up kidnapping her. He used a false passport to bring her to Manchester and force her to work in a brothel.

'I had been working as a waitress, dreaming of a future as a wife and mother,' Alma says. 'This man shared my Muslim religion. I trusted him. When he locked me in his house, took away all my money and possessions, I was terrified. But when he forced me into a car and had a friend drive me to a foreign country where I didn't speak the language or know anyone, I was beside myself . My family went to the police but after a week I knew they wouldn't take me back because, according to our religion, I was ruined.

'He beat me and made me live with another girl who spied on me. She wouldn't leave me for a second and reported to this man if I did anything that looked like trying to escape. He forced me to work in the brothel, but the clients complained because I just cried all the time. The manager asked me what was wrong. I didn't have the language to express myself, but eventually I managed to explain. I don't think she felt sorry for me, but she saw that I wasn't going to earn her brothel any money because I would never willingly work. She helped me to escape and I went to the police. This has damaged my life in all directions. I have no dreams now and no hopes. I have nothing.'

Owed Justice - Thai Women Trafficked into Debt Bondage in Japan

Human Rights Watch, September 2000 -- ISBN 1-56432-252-1  Library of Congress 00-107963

[accessed 20 August 2011]

IV. PROFILES - In this chapter, Human Rights Watch profiles four women who were trafficked from Thailand into servitude in Japan. Human Rights Watch interviewed numerous women who recounted similar experiences.

POT - It was a big room and four or five other women going to work in Japan were also kept there. I was surprised to be locked up because I was not allowed any chance to say goodbye to my family, even over the phone. I heard the agents talking about the price for each woman being between 150-160 bai [1.5-1.6 million yen; US$10,000-11,000], but I couldn't really understand what they were talking about and did not realize that we were being sold into prostitution.

KAEW - Kaew explained that she had understood there would be some debt for the airplane ticket and other expenses, but she had never been told how high her debt would be, and she was shocked at the amount. "The other girls said to me, 'that's a lot of debt and you're old; you'll never pay it off.' Then I prayed that it would only take six or seven months to pay it off, and I went with all of the clients I could. . . . The mama said to me, 'don't let your period come, or you'll never finish paying your debt.'" So Kaew also took contraceptive pills daily, though she had been sterilized at age twenty-one, so that she would not menstruate and could work every day.(7) She got her mother to send the pills from Thailand, so that she would not have to buy them from her mama and increase the level of her debt.

The route to hell

Louisa Waugh, The Scotsman, Aug 22, 2006

[accessed 20 August 2011]

[accessed 11 July 2017]

Olga, like all the other women, was immediately sold - she was bought by a local bar owner. This pimp instructed her to dance on a stage, and then rented her out to punters at night. If she resisted, he beat her. Like the vast majority of trafficked women, she learnt to become compliant in order to survive.

Vigilance Needed in Fight Against Human Trafficking

New America Media, Commentary, Hediana Utarti and Kavitha Sreeharsha, San Francisco, May 29, 2006

[accessed 20 August 2011]

The maid revealed that despite being promised a part-time job and a work visa, her employer paid far less than minimum wage, did not offer breaks, held her travel documents, isolated her from calling her family, and threatened to call the police and immigration authorities. She spoke little English and had no idea who she could call for help.

Sex trafficking strikes closer to home than thought

S.M. Berg, The Portland Alliance, November 18, 2004

[accessed 20 August 2011]

A bed, a teddy bear, and a roll of paper towels are the only contents of a closet-sized room where a trafficked 13-year-old girl was sold for sex by pimps to 20-30 men a day.

On Nov. 5, 2003, a woman taken from the Lloyd Center shopping mall was found to have been drugged awake for three straight days of sexual slavery by traffickers in Vancouver, Canada.

Traffickers forced three dozen Mexican men and boys recruited in Arizona to work 60 hours a week on farms near Buffalo, N.Y. for $30 a week.

Scale of African slavery revealed

BBC News, 23 April, 2004

[accessed 20 August 2011]

Complicity: Much of this trade in children often has the tacit collaboration of the victims' own families where it is seen not so much as criminal activity but as a way for a large family to boost its poor income.  The story of Joseph in Benin is fairly typical

Online Focus - Slavery in America

Jeffrey Kaye, Public Broadcasting Service PBS Online NewsHour, Berkeley California, March 8, 2001

[accessed 12 September 2014]

Transcript of a NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

Putting a Stop to the Exploitation

Tom Paquette, Church of Scientology International

[accessed 12 September 2014]

She was a teenager from an impoverished village in Bangladesh. The American couple offered her transport to America and a better life: a nice job as their nanny and housekeeper, wages and opportunity. The dream offer dissolved into a nightmare as soon as she reached sunny Southern California. The couple informed her she owed them a huge sum for bringing her into the country and forced her to work without wages for years in their home. There she was repeatedly raped and beaten by the husband and abused by the wife. After three failed attempts, and with the help of good samaritans, she finally escaped

Focus on Children [PDF]

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, International Child Labor Program, September 2002 -- Focus on Children

[accessed 12 September 2014]

This is the testimony of Thuli, a young girl from Nepal who was trafficked to India and sold into prostitution for Rs 35,000, the equivalent of $720

PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN - Impact of armed conflict on children

Note by the Secretary-General, Item 108 of the provisional agenda, A/51/150, Fifty-first session of UN General Assembly, 26 August 1996

[accessed 13 April 2019]



Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 27 January 2020]

46.  A case study from Honduras illustrates one child's experience of joining an armed group:

“At the age of 13, I joined the student movement.  I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry ... later I joined the armed struggle.  I had all the inexperience and the fears of a little girl.  I found out that girls were obliged to have sexual relations 'to alleviate the sadness of the combatants'.  And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew?  At my young age I experienced abortion.  It was not my decision.  There is a great pain in my being when I recall all these things ...  In spite of my commitment, they abused me, they trampled my human dignity.  And above all, they did not understand that I was a child and that I had rights.”

Child Labor and Sweatshops

Abigail Cozart, Social Justice Project, 31 March 2011

[accessed 20 August 2015]

When he was four years old, Iqbal Masih was sold into bonded servitude by his parents, a common practice of poor Pakistani families hoping to pay off debts owed to landlords and local merchants

Child Slave Caught in Glittering Traps

Corinna Schuler, National Post, 4/17/2001

[accessed 20 August 2011]

SIKASSO, MALI, and SINFRA, Ivory Coast - Mali's modern-day slave traders do not bother with abductions any more. They lure victims with a smile. "Hey there," a stranger called, leaning out the window of a dented white mini-van as it chugged to a stop on a dirt road. Two teenage brothers looked up at the driver. He introduced himself as Solo. "You looking for work?

Slaves to chocolate: thousands of boys toil on Ivory Coast cacao farms

Current Events, a Weekly Reader publication, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, April 26, 2002

[partially accessed 30 January 2011 - access restricted]

[accessed 11 March 2018]

Aly Diabate, from the country of Mali, was 12 years old when a slave trader promised him $150 and a bicycle for working on a cacao farm in Ivory Coast, where 43 percent of the world's cacao is grown. Instead, Aly was sold for about $35 to a cacao farmer, who regularly beat the boy with a bicycle chain and branches from a cacao tree. "The beatings were part of my life," Aly told a reporter for Knight Ridder Newspapers in 2001, after he was freed by local authorities and returned to his Mali village.

Anecdotes of Workplace Abuse in Malaysia

Human Rights Watch, Help Wanted: Abuses against Female Migrant Domestic Workers in Indonesia and Malaysia, Vol. 16, No 9(C)   July 2004

[accessed 20 August 2011]

I worked for a husband, wife, two girls and a boy.  Sometimes I didn’t sleep….

I would wake up at 5:00 a.m. and go to sleep at midnight, sometimes 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m….

There were three families living together in one big house and I was the only maid

If my employers went out, they locked the door from the outside and took the key

I’m just a housemaid, I can’t ask for anything.  I am not allowed to talk to the neighbors

I will go crazy here.  They don’t let me out, the employer won’t let me speak to anyone

One employer explained: I think it’s no good to let them out.  If we allow them out, especially those women from the village, they get influenced, they start to fight back

If I asked for my salary, the employer hit me

I worked for my second employer for two years.  They cut my salary 2000 ringgit (U.S.$526) in order to renew my passport

In Malaysia, the agent or employer holds the salary.  If I want to buy anything, I had to borrow money from my employer

I want to send money home, but my employer won’t let me

Every day something made [my employers] angry.  Every day the woman hit me many times with a wooden stick.  Sometimes she slapped me, sometimes she hit me with a hanger or a comb, sometimes when I was cooking, she hit my head with tools

[My employers] were fussy and cruel.  If I washed the dishes and they were still a little dirty, she would take the glass and hit me with the glass

It was hard to work for them because there was not enough food.  I got food once a day.  If I made a mistake, for example, if we ran out of rice and I forgot to tell the employer, she wouldn’t give me food for two days

The grandmother was always angry.  She never let me take a break.  She always complained about my mistakes.  She also hit me

When the lady went to drop off the children to the grandmother’s house, the man would stay at home….  He raped me many, many times

The agent said I will take care of old people.  They promised me 350 ringgit [U.S.$92.10] a month, with four months deduction

Trafficking From Caucasus - IOM Case Studies [PDF]

International Organization for Migration IOM, "Trafficking in Women and Children from the Republic of Armenia: A Study" (2001)

[accessed 27 August 2011]

[accessed 22 February 2018]

Case study 3 (Victim – U.A.E.) -- "I met my boyfriend at my girl-friend’s house. He had been dating me for a month already when he told me he was going to marry me. My boyfriend told me we could earn some money for our wedding if we went to work in Greece at his friend’s company.

We would stay for three months there to earn enough money and come back. I was extremely happy. I could not believe all that was happening to me. He took my passport and all necessary papers and said that he would take care of visa and travel arrangements. I was so happy and careless that I did not even ask to see the tickets or documents. The day of departure came. We took the plane and instead of Greece we landed in Dubai.

He took me to a hotel and said that he was going to see his friend and would be back soon. Two hours later a man came to take me to another hotel saying that I was his property. I could not understand, I kept saying that it was a misunderstanding and that my friend would come soon. I had come to Dubai for another purpose. The man told me that my friend had sold me to him, that from now on he would have my documents and I had to do whatever he told me to. He said that the next day I had to move to another place and serve all the clients he would send to me.

Testimony of Anita

Polaris Project

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

[accessed 28 August 2011]

I felt very scared that evening and I refused to eat anything. I soon noticed that many men were coming in and out of the house and I realized it was a brothel. I began howling and shouting. I said that I wanted to leave. Renu Lama told me that I was ignorant. She said that I did not just come easily and I could not go easily. She said that I had been bought and I would have to work as a prostitute in order to pay them back.

On the fourth day that I was in the brothel, my first client came to me. I refused to have sex with him. He had already paid so he grabbed me and tried to rape me. I fought him off. He had managed to get my clothes off but he was very frustrated because I was resisting him so much. He stormed out and asked for his money back. A couple of the brothel owners (voluntary prostitutes) came in and beat me. When they were done, the same man came back in.

Some of my associates overheard the owners saying that they were also planning to sell me to a brothel in Sarat because I was too much trouble. I decided that I could not wait until the boy returned from Nepal. I had to try again to run away. I asked some of the other girls to run with me, but they were too afraid. We had been told that we would be killed if we tried to run away. But I had determined that I would rather die than stay in the brothel. The other girls pooled their money together and came up with two hundred rupees. In exchange for the 200 rupees, I promised that if I made it out alive, I would get help for them.

Testimony of Bopha

Polaris Project

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

[accessed 28 August 2011]

Bopha lived in a rural village and married at 17. Her husband immediately took her to a hotel in another village and left her. Bopha discovered the hotel was a brothel and tried to escape, but she was forcibly detained and told she must pay off the price the hotel owner had paid for her.

Testimony of Deng

Polaris Project

[Last access date unavailable]

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Deng, in her late 20's, was recruited in her native Thailand to travel voluntarily to Australia where she was told she could make lots of money as a prostitute. Upon arrival in Australia, however, she was met by traffickers who took away her passport and locked her in a house.

The Story of E.R.

True Stories, Anti-Trafficking Educational Curriculum, Association of Albanian Girls and Women - AAGW

[accessed 23 July 2013]

"My name is E.R. and I am from Elbasan. When I was 15, my parents married me, against my will, to a man aged 35, whom I did not love. So started my miseries.   Not too long afterwards, I abandoned him and returned to my family. But my parents did not accept me back because I had dishonored them by leaving my husband. I had no support and nowhere to go. I got acquainted with a boy who was 20 who said he loved me and promised to marry me. He convinced me to go to Italy for 'a better life.'   I thought my sufferings now were at an end, but I did not know the real hell that was expecting me. I was compelled to work on the street. I did so for nearly three years. My exploiter savagely battered me frequently, mainly when I did not bring home the required sum or when he faced drug trafficking problems.

Victims' Stories

US State Department, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

[accessed 20 August 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2010 - The victims’ testimonies included in this report are meant to be representative only and do not include all forms of existing trafficking. Any of these stories could take place anywhere in the world. They illustrate the many forms of trafficking and the wide variety of places in which trafficking occurs. Many of the victims’ names have been changed in this report. Most uncaptioned photographs are not images of confirmed trafficking victims, but they show the myriad forms of exploitation that define trafficking and the variety of cultures in which trafficking victims are found.