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Esther (Unchained).jpg

Esther

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018).  Among this number, are children subjected to forced marriage. A study published on child marriage in 2011 determined that the prevalence of child marriage among women in the US was 8.9 percent, meaning that over 9.4 million US women were married at age 16 or younger. Forced marriage and child marriage are understudies problems within the United States and more research is needed to determine what drives its occurrence. Esther was 17 years old when she was forced to marry a boy against her will. She was subjected to emotional, physical and sexual abuse daily by her husband. After 9 years, Esther was finally able divorce her abusive husband, however was coerced into having her divorce arbitrated by a religious court that deemed she must raise her children in the same insular religion in which she was raised and married. Unchained provided Esther with an attorney who was able to win Esther full custody of her children and the rise to raise them as she chooses.

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Michel Chikwanine

There are an estimated 1,045,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo (GSI 2018). In 2016 several armed groups continued to abduct and forcibly recruit men, women and children as combatants and in support roles such as guards, cleaners, cooks and spies.  In 2016, 184 cases of child soldiers were reported, with 1,662 children reported to have seperated or escaped from armed groups. Child soldiers who manage to escape remain vulnerable to re-recruitment as adeqaute rehabilitation services remain unavailable to children suffering trauma, stigmatisation and the continued threat of armed groups.   Michel Chikwanine was 5 years old when he was abducted by rebel soldiers while playing football with his friends. Driven for hours to an unknown location, when Michel and his friends finally stepped out of the trucks, they were drugged, blindfolded, given guns, and forced to shoot each other. For two weeks Michel was subjected to ‘training’ and then taken with other child soldiers to ‘take over’ a village. Michel was able to escape, running for 3 days and 3 nights through the jungle back to his home village. Michel now lives in Canada and is studying at university alongside working as a survivor advocate to eradicate the use of child soldiers.  

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Ina

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned internatinoal borders, dupiong or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape.   Ina was 12 years old when she was drugged, kidnapped and forced in to prostitution. Ina was forced to take heroin and alcohol, and was subjected to physical and sexual violence daily. Ina was finally rescued at the age of 17 having spent 5 years in forced sexual exploitation. 

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Huong

China remains a source, transit and destination country for the sexual exploitation of women and children.  Women are lured through false promises of legitimate employment and trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation from countries such as Mongolia, Burma, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, Romania and Ghana. Moreover, the Chinese government’s birth limitation policy and a cultural preference for sons created a skewed sex ratio of 117 boys to 100 girls in China, which observers assert increases the demand for prostitution and for foreign women as brides for Chinese men—both of which may be procured by force or coercion. Women and girls are kidnapped or recruited through marriage brokers and transported to China, where some are subjected to commercial sex or forced labour.  Huong was 19 when her Aunt's boyfriend trafficked her, drugging her drink and selling her to a brothel in China. Subjected to physical and sexual abuse daily, Huong and another girl being held were able to escape with the help of Vietnamese man who drove them to the Vietnam-China border. 

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Ali

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.    Ali, a young woman who fell into a life of drug addiction and prostitution in Philadelphia, describes the hold sex traffickers have on their victims and how she was ultimately able to escape the life with the help of a deputy sheriff on an FBI task force. 

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Sarah

UK children continue to be subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Children in the care system and unaccompanied migrant children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. The United Kingdom remains a significant destination for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. At least one child a day is trafficked into Britain according the to the Human Trafficking Foundation, with children forced to work in the sex industry, domestic service, cannabis cultivation or as criminal on the streets.  Child victims of human trafficking primarily originate from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, and from within the UK itself.     Sarah was 10 years old when she began buying illegal cigarettes and alcohol from a gang in the UK, often not having to pay because they were her 'friends'. After 2 years, the gang told Sarah that she had a £75,000 debt that she would have to pay for by transporting drugs and providing sexual services. Despite being in the care system, at school and having a social worker, it wasn't until a police officer looked further in to Sarah's case that she was rescued from her situation. Sarah talks about the system failures that led to her trafficking. 

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Rakesh

India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage.  Rakesh was 6 years old when he was kidnapped and forced to work long hours, drugged and beaten on a daily basis. Rakesh was finally rescued and taken to Bal Ashram where he received an education. 

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Theresa

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.  Theresa was 15 years old when the man she had a crush on drugged and raped her. Using photos of the encounter as blackmail, Theresa was then forced to provide sexual services to men for 2 years. Today Theresa travels the world telling her story. 

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Laura C

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Laura had been raped and trafficked by a previous boyfriend who had also gotten her addicted to drugs. Laura managed to get clean, return to school and met a new man with whom she became good friends. Her friend told her he was going to Chicago and offered to take her with him. She thought it would be a chance for a better life away from Omaha. However, after arriving in Chicago, Laura’s friend stole her phone, beat her up and told her that she now has to do everything he says.  Subjected to physical and sexual abuse daily, Laura was moved around the country several times and forced to provide sexual services before she was able to escape and return home to her family.

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Crystal

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Crystal grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household. Having been sexually assaulted from a young age, Crystal points to her childhood experiences as the source of her vulnerability. It was as an adult that Crystal was trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation by her second husband who exploited her drug addictions and forced her to sleep with other women for money. Though she was able to escape her husband, the cycle of trafficking continued. It was after her arrest and the subsequent loss of her son to child services that Crystal was able to break the cycle and escape, going back to school and regaining custody of her son.

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Carla

Honduras is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Those targeted are usually lured by false job offers from rural areas to urban, tourist centres. Honduran women and children are trafficked to Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Belize, and the United States for commercial sexual exploitation. Most foreign victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Honduras are from neighboring countries; some are economic migrants victimized en route to the United States. Additional trafficking concerns include reports of child sex tourism in the Bay Islands, and some criminal gangs’ forcing children to conduct street crime. Carla was 15 when she was forced to leave school after her mother became ill. One evening on her way home from work Carla was forced into a car at gunpoint by a gang. Taken to a wooden house, Carla was tied up, deprived of food and water and forced to sell drugs and sex. Carla was subjected to physical and sexual violence daily. She was finally able to escape with the help of a client.

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Jennifer A

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking. Jenifer Kempton was sexually assaulted at a young age. Searching for a love she had never received in childhood when, at the age of 25, she thought she had met the man that would break the cycle of abusive relationships. However, instead he got her addicted to drugs and sold her to a gang where she was, branded with a tattoo and forced in to prostitution on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. Jennifer was eventually able to escape and devoted her time to promote awareness and advocate for social change. Jennifer founded Suvivor's Ink to connect survivors to resources and to cover the marks of ownership and violence given to them by their traffickers.

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Barbara (Narrative 2)

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Young people who run away from home are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation by traffickers: the Department of Justice estimates that 293,000 youth are at risk. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that “1 in 5 of the 11,800 runways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2015 were likely sex trafficking victims. Barbara Amaya ran away from an abusive home in North Virginia at 12 years old. By the age of 16 in 1972 she had been sent to three detention centres and lived on the streets of Washington DC and New York City. She spent over 10 years as a victim of commercial sexual exploitation where she was forced to work as a prostitute and hooked on heroin. Today Barbara works to bring awareness of the adversity that survivors of violence and trauma have overcome and trains law enforcement, health care professionals, teachers and counsellors how to interact with victims.

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Alisha

UK children continue to be subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Children in the care system and unaccompanied migrant children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. At least one child a day is trafficked into Britain according the to the Human Trafficking Foundation, with children forced to work in the sex industry, domestic service, cannabis cultivation or as criminal on the streets.  Child victims of human trafficking primarily originate from Romania, Vietnam, Nigeria, and from within the UK itself.   After her mum left home and her dad started drinking, Alisha looked for friendship in a group of older people outside of school. Thinking they cared about her, Alisha accepted alcohol and drugs from them. Once she became hooked, her friends demanded she pay them for what they had given her, forcing her to perform sexual services under the threat of violence. 

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Jose

Mexico has one of the largest child labour forces in Latin America with 3.6 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently employed in some way. This has made children one of the most vulnerable groups of people subjected to labour exploitation in the country. 42.5 percent of children working in Mexico do not receive any income for their labour. The current prevalence of poverty in the country has meant that many families require children to contribute to the household income in order to survive. Moreover Mexico is home to thousands of street children who constitute a particularly vulnerable group often subjected to forced labour and sexual exploitation. Jose was just 7 years old when he ran away from a neglectful home environment and began living on the streets of Mexico. One day he was approached by a boy who offered him a place to stay. When he arrived at the house he was told that he would have to work to earn his keep. Jose was exploited for his labour, became addicted to drugs and was recruited by a gang who made him sell in exchange for feeding his addiction. Jose was rescued by a woman from an NGO and is now an ‘older brother’ in the organisation, working to help children like himself.

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Janet

Foreign workers constitute more than 20 percent of the Malaysian workforce and typically migrate voluntarily—often illegally—to Malaysia from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries, mostly in pursuit of better economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are subjected to forced labour or debt bondage by their employers, employment agents, or informal labour recruiters when they are unable to pay the fees for recruitment and associated travel. Malaysia is also a destination country for the trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. Janet sought work overseas after her brother became ill. Convinced by recruiters, she travelled to Malaysia where she was told she would work as a waitress. However upon arrival Janet was told she would be sold off to men. Subjected to physical abuse and injected with drugs to disorientate her Janet never received money to help her sick brother. Janet was finally able to escape one day after convincing a client to lend her his phone and call for help.  

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Ika

Men, women and children make up those trafficked in Indonesia, subjected to forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Brokers working in rural areas are known to lure men and boys into forced labour on palm oil, rubber and tobacco plantations, while women and under-age girls are lured into work as domestics in private homes and as commercial sex workers. Rising unemployment and slowed job creation has pushed people into the informal sector unprotected by labour laws and thus made them more vulnerable to exploitation. There are currently only 18 shelters in Indonesia working to rescue and rehabilitate traffic victims. Ika dropped out of school at 15 years old and was offered a job in Batam by a new friend. However once she arrived she realised she had been trafficked in to commercial sex work. Ika was subjected to physical beatings by her employer regularly and was ignored by clients when she asked them for help. Eventually, Ika was able to get hold of a phone and message her mother who informed the authorities. A raid was organised and Ika was rescued. 

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Sofia

Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. According to the most recent Eurostat findings, European Union (EU) citizens account for 65 percent of identified trafficked victims within Europe. These individuals mostly originate from Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. In Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Parliament has identified corruption and the judicial system as reform challenges towards accession talks within the EU. In Greece, the turbulent economic situation has increased vulnerability for populations seeking employment and livelihood opportunities. Sofia describes being coerced into working abroad as a prostitute by her boyfriend, to help him buy drugs. She was later forced to work as a beggar and to steal, as well as sex work at different times.

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Rosanna

In the Philippines, women and children are subjected to sexual exploitation in brothels, bars, and massage parlours, online, as well as in the production of pornography. The Philippines is an international hub for prostitution and commercial sex tourism – a highly profitable businesses for organised criminal syndicates. The demand for sex with children among both local and foreign men has continued to fuel child sex tourism. Rising internet usage rates, the availability of mobile phones and poverty has fostered online child sexual exploitation.

Rosanna travelled to Cebu City under the false pretences of working in a convenience shop, but was instead sexually exploited for a year and a half before she was able to leave the situation.

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Kolab

Kolab does not know who her real parents are. She studied to grade 5, then was forced to worked as a family servant, in a karaoke bar, and to sell drugs and sex. After eventually escaping successfully she tried to find work outside of the sex industry but could find no work, and so began work in a massage parlor brothel. Later she was able to leave the industry with the help of an NGO named AFESIP Cambodia. Names have been changed to protect the survivors' privacy.