Labor trafficking is a form of human trafficking in which an individual is forced to perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion. The victim may be forced to work as a domestic servant, on a farm, in the fields, in a factory, etc.
- In 2016, the International Labor Organization estimated that there were 24.9 million individuals trapped in labor trafficking.
- As of 2018, the United States Department of Labor has identified 148 goods from 76 countries made with forced or child labor.
- A 2020 report from the International Labour Organization says forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profit per year.
Each year, the United States Department of State publishes a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report which includes a ranking of governments on their efforts to combat human trafficking. You can read past TIP reports here.
2021 TIP Report
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2020 TIP Report
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SIGNS OF LABOR TRAFFICKING
Part of what makes the fight against human trafficking so difficult is the fact that it is a hidden crime. In order to put an end to trafficking, we must learn the signs.
While there are many varying signs that are dependent on the type of labor trafficking and the individuals involved, the following are some general signs that an individual may be a victim of labor trafficking.
Note that not each indicator taken individually will imply a trafficking situation and not all victims will exhibit these signs.
The individual may…
- Have limited freedom of movement.
- Be unaware of where they are or how they got there.
- Be unpaid or paid very little.
- Have no passport or ID or mention that someone else is holding their documents.
- Work very long hours.
- Have limited access to medical care.
- Live in the same place s/he works.
- Have very few possessions.
- Exhibit signs of physical and/or psychological trauma (anxiety, lack of memory of recent events, bruising, untreated conditions, etc).
- Be fearful of the trafficker, believing that their life and/or the lives of family members are at risk if they try to escape.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As consumers, we hold the key to eliminating the forced labor of children and adults throughout the world. In a society that often values things more than people, this can present quite the challenge and we may not know where to begin. The United States Department of Labor gives the following suggestions:
Could some of the goods I buy be made by child labor or forced labor?
Do workers have a voice to speak out against labor abuses?
What are companies doing to end child and forced labor in global supply chains?
What are governments doing to combat child and forced labor?
- Empower yourself with knowledge. Downloading the Sweat and Toil and Comply Chain apps may help.
- Know your slavery footprint.
- Avoid buying products from companies that include labor trafficking in their supply chain.
- Make your voice heard by spreading the word among friends, family, and companies you buy from and invest in.
- Show your support for organizations that are working to end these abuses.
- Shop Fair Trade. See a list of our favorite fair trade shops.
Advocate for a world in which…
- Workers everywhere can raise their voices against child labor, forced labor, and other abuses.
- Companies make serious commitments to ensure that global supply chains are free of products made by child and forced labor.
- Your investments have a positive impact by promoting responsible labor practices.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided a human trafficking legislation tracker to stay up to date on legal issues surrounding the topic.
The Vatican's Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking provides an understanding that motivates and sustains the much-needed long-term struggle against trafficking.
The new issue of Anti-Trafficking Review explores assumptions around the technological tools currently available that purport to address trafficking and exploitation.
What are the laws against trafficking in your state? Use this document to find out.
The Department of Justice explains the key legislation to eradicate human trafficking.
How many victims of human trafficking are in your state? Find out here.
- A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern Day Slavery | E. Benjamin Skinner
- Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy | Kevin Bales
- Fighting Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking | Genevieve LeBaron
- Human Trafficking Around the World | Stephanie Hepburn
- Human Trafficking Reconsidered: Rethinking the Problem | Kimberly Kay Hoang
- Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It | David Batstone
- The Slave Next Door | Kevin Bales
- Understanding Global Slavery | Kevin Bales
- The Dark Side of Chocolate (2010): A team of journalists investigates how the worldwide chocolate industry is fueled by human trafficking and child slave labor in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than half of the world’s chocolate comes from.
- Invisible Slaves (2012): This documentary provides firsthand accounts of trafficking in Latin America and served as the centerpiece of a joint MTV and UNICEF campaign to raise awareness among vulnerable populations about the prevalence of human trafficking within Latin American and U.S. Hispanic communities.
- Priceless (2016): A project from the band For King and Country, this romantic-drama can serve as a good introduction to human trafficking for younger people. It tells the fictional story of James Stevens, a widower who agrees to drive a truck against the country, no questions asked. He soon learns he’s working for a human trafficking ring.
- Blue Heart Campaign
- Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking
- ECPAT (Report: Unpacking Human Trafficking)
- End Slavery Now
- Free the Slaves
- Shared Hope International
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- USCSAHT - US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking
- The Human Rights Institute has issued the 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report.
- Human Rights Watch reports human rights trends from around the globe.
- The Human Trafficking 2019 Federal Human Trafficking Report
- UN's Office on Drugs & Crimes Report on the COVID pandemic on trafficking in persons
- Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice released a white paper on Primary Prevention Framework to Prevent Child Trafficking
- The National Human Trafficking Center released the report Vulnerability Multiplied: The Nexus of Climate Change and Human Trafficking