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.
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.
2019 TIP Report
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2018 North America Profile
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2018 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.
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 United Nations Human Rights Council's Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children identifies key challenges related to long-term social inclusion for trafficking survivors.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released an issue aper on the concept of "exploitation" in the trafficking in persons.
Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers gives practical, non-clinical advice to help a concerned health provider understand the phenomenon of human trafficking.
The District of Columbia's Office of the Attorney General released a report on illegal worker misclassification and its relationship with payroll fraud.
The Vatican's Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking provides an understanding that motivates and sustains the much-needed long-term struggle against trafficking.
Know the Chain evaluated companies in different sectors on their efforts to address forced labor. Here are the results.