It is a global problem: there are 21 million people enslaved in the world today.
It involves men and women, adults and children.
It is the third most profitable crime in the world: the annual revenue from the trafficking of human beings is thought to be around $32 billion.
Takes Many Forms
It takes on many faces: the three most common forms of slavery are forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude.
Forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude: all of these forms of human trafficking exist in Northern Ireland. Human trafficking happens, and it happens here.
Sex trafficking is the sexual exploitation of people for the financial profit of others.
- Victims of sex trafficking are both men and women, adults and children. Many victims are from outside of Northern Ireland, but there are increasing reports of people being trafficked for sex in their own localities in NI.
- Young girls who are in care in Northern Ireland are often targeted by ‘pimps’ here. Pimps use verbal and physical abuse to cause victims to fear them.
- As in most cases of slavery, people who find themselves enslaved for sexual exploitation are often promised employment by their traffickers or ‘pimps’.
- Most victims are kept in houses, ‘brothels’ which can be found in cities, towns and rural areas.
Forced labour is “any work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of some form punishment.” (Anti-Slavery International)
It takes on the forms of domestic servitude, begging, agricultural labour, service industry labour and factory labour.
- Forced labour takes place in many contexts. In Northern Ireland, forced labour has been found in the fishing industry, fast food production, various agricultural industries and car washes.
- Victims are men and women, adults and children. They are often migrant workers who have travelled to Northern Ireland on the promise of employment.
- People in forced labour are given little or no pay, are forced to work in unsafe conditions and are subject to physical and verbal abuse.
- “Bonded labour” occurs when a victim has had to take out a loan from the people who are exploiting them for ‘administration fees’ and travel costs. They are told they will not be free until this is paid off.
"You start eight till seven, always there, sometimes maybe seven days per week or maybe I was working one month with no time off. We get about eighty pence per hour."
Domestic servitude is a specific kind of forced labour which takes place in a private home.
- People are promised employment and instead find themselves trapped in someone’s house, with no means of completion of ‘contract’ or way out.
- Victims are made to perform domestic tasks, childcare or strenuous labour with little access to personal care, space or choice.
- In Northern Ireland, victims of domestic servitude are often enslaved in the home of someone of similar ethnic background.
- Globally, many female victims of domestic servitude are also victims of sex trafficking.
"My employers began to beat me. I felt powerless. Most nights, I cried myself to sleep. My new life was a complete misery. I felt so low and humiliated.”