The International Labour Organization estimates that 18.7 million people are subjected to forced labor, 14.2 million of whom are exploited in activities such as agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing, and 4.5 million of whom are exploited for sex. Forced labor is work or service that is extorted from someone under the menace of any penalty and work or service that the person has not offered voluntarily. Types of forced labor include debt bondage, involuntary servitude, peonage, and slavery.
Debt bondage: Debt Bondage is a type of forced labor, involving a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time. The employer/enforcer artificially inflates the amount of debt, adds exorbitant interest, and/or charges for living expenses, deducting little or nothing from the debt and increasing the amount of time the individual must work. This results in a cycle of debt where there is no hope for freedom. Debt bondage is also known as peonage, debt slavery, or bonded labor.
Interested in the role of labor brokers in the global economy and how their presence can create hiring traps for migrant workers?
Summary Report—Help Wanted: Hiring, Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery in Global Economy
Involuntary Domestic Servitude: Involuntary servitude occurs when a domestic worker becomes ensnared in an exploitative situation they are unable to escape. Typically in private homes, the individual is forced to work for little or no pay while confined to the boundaries of their employer’s property. These workers may endure such abuses as confiscation of travel documents; threats of arrest or deportation; isolation from family or any other type of support network; and subjection to psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation occurs in various settings, including (but not limited to) brothels, strip clubs, massage parlors, on the street (sometimes coined “track”), or in private homes. Individuals can be trafficked domestically and across international borders. According to the International Labour Organization, 4.5 million individuals are exploited for sex. Women and children are the most common victims found to be trafficked for sex. More recently, however, LGBT identifying individuals, especially transgender individuals, are increasingly found to be victims of sexual exploitation.
Globally there are 168 million child laborers, over half of whom (85 million) are in hazardous work conditions. It is possible for minors, individuals below the age of 18, to participate in work that does not negatively affect their health, personal development, or schooling. However “child labor” frequently refers to work that does have a deleterious effect on children’s health, including depriving them of a childhood and reaching their potential. This work may be mentally or physically dangerous or harmful to children, or it may interfere with their schooling. As children are more easily manipulated and require fewer resources to survive, the use of child labor increases with poverty, globalization, and the demand for cheap labor.
More extreme forms of child labor include enslavement and trafficking. Children may be abducted, sacrificed for the betterment of the family, or promised an education by their trafficker. They are trafficked into domestic work, sexual exploitation, hazardous child labor, begging, and other illegal activities such as stealing, illegal adoption, or early marriage.
Child labor is separate from forced labor more generally because exploitation does not necessarily come directly from another individual. Hazardous working conditions effectively debilitate minors to a great extent.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
Sex trafficking includes the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Trafficking involves the exploitation of a child for sex by an adult, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties. CSEC does not require the presence of force, fraud, or coercion; rather, any form of sexual exploitation, ranging from sexual favors to commercial sexual exploitation, are considered CESC. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possible death.
There are hundreds of thousands of child soldiers worldwide. Child soldiers are defined as individuals below the age of 18 who are, or have been, recruited or used by armed forces or groups in any capacity. The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes. Perpetrators not only include rebel groups, but also government forces and paramilitary organizations. Child soldiers endure extreme psychological and physiological damage, making reintegration into their communities and life in general very difficult.