Human Trafficking

Human trafficking and modern slavery are thought to be amongst the most widespread crimes in the world, affecting millions of men, women and children each day.

Human Trafficking is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as:

‘The Act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’

Broken down into simpler terms, this means human trafficking is made up of three elements:

  • Movement or recruitment by
  • Deception or coercion for
  • The purpose of exploitation

Modern Slavery acts as an umbrella term, which covers several human rights issues, of which human trafficking is one. It is mainly defined by the 1956 UN supplementary convention which says:

‘…debt bondage, serfdom, forced marriage and the delivery of a child for the exploitation of that child are all slavery-like practices and require criminalization and abolishment…’

Modern slavery encompasses:

  • Slavery
  • Human trafficking
  • Servitude
  • Forced or compulsory labour

Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.

Types of Exploitation

This is when someone is deceived, coerced or forced to take part in sexual activity. Places where someone could be sexually exploited:

  • Prostitution
  • Brothels – massage/sauna
  • Escort agencies
  • Pole/lap dancing
  • Forced marriage
  • Stripping on a web cam
  • Phone sex lines
  • Internet chat rooms
  • Pornography
  • Mail order brides
  • Sex tourism

This refers to situations where people are coerced to work for little or no remuneration, often under threat of punishment. There are several means through which a person can be coerced, including:

  • Use of violence or intimidation
  • Accumulated debt
  • Retention of identity papers
  • Threat of exposure to immigration authorities. All types of labour, within every industry, are susceptible to labour exploitation. Some common sectors and industries that are identified as vulnerable include:
  • Manufacturing
  • Factory work
  • Hospitality
  • Construction and Car washes
  • Agriculture and Fishing

A domestic worker or helper is a person who works within their employer’s home, performing a variety of tasks. This arrangement becomes exploitative when there are restrictions on the domestic worker’s movement, and they are forced to work long hours for little pay. They may also suffer physical and sexual abuse. Places where someone can be in domestic servitude:

  • In a private home
  • In a community such as a commune

This is when a person is put under pressure to marry someone. They may be threatened with physical or sexual violence or placed under emotional or psychological distress to achieve these aims.

Situations where you may find forced marriage used:

  • To gain access into a country
  • To gain access to benefits

This is when somebody is forced to carry out criminal activity through coercion or deception. Forced criminality can take many forms, including:

  • Drug trade, e.g. cannabis cultivation, drug distribution
  • Begging
  • Pickpocketing
  • Bag snatching
  • ATM theft
  • Selling of counterfeit goods

Forced criminality also encompasses social welfare fraud. This takes place when exploiters falsely apply for tax credits and other welfare benefits using the victims’ details. It is not only the state that is the victim of social welfare fraud, there is often horrific abuse used against the individual in order to coerce them into falsely applying for benefits.

These are children and young people, ranging from as young as four up to 18, who are used for any military purpose. It affects both males and females.

Children may be used for frontline combat – which means they are made to commit acts of violence – or within auxiliary roles, such as informants or kitchen hands. Often, the children are also sexually abused.

The trafficking in organs involves removing a part of the body to sell often as an illegal trade. Organs can be taken in several ways:


  • Trade – a victim formally or informally agrees to sell an organ, but are then cheated because they are not paid for the organ, or are paid less than the promised price
  • Ailments – a vulnerable person is treated for an ailment, which may or may not exist, and the organs are removed without the victim’s knowledge
  • Extortion – a victim may be kidnapped from their family and organs removed without consent