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Habtu

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Habtu was taken to Sawa training camp in 2010. There he was forced to cook the soldier’s meals and was subjected to physical abuse daily.

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Kidane

There are an estimated 451,000 people living in modern slavery in Eritrea (GSI 2018). The small country has a unique system of compulsory, open-ended military service for citizens that makes it one of the most oppressive states in the world. The government has enforced its current policy of sending all secondary school students to serve for a minimum of twelve months since 2003. While Eritrean law puts the minimum conscription age at 18, many teenagers find themselves recruited during high school at age 16 or even younger. In rural areas, where formal education is rarer, the army will visit villages to round up young girls and boys who look roughly of age, to begin their program of combat training and forced labour.  Kidane was 16 years old when he was sent for military training at Sawa. After training he was forced to work in farming and construction, until he was able to flee the country in 2012.

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Gowri

There are an estimated almost 8 million people living in modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, with at least 270 million people still living on less than US$1.90 per day. Existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, with forced labour, including debt bondage, constituting India’s largest trafficking problem. Situations of debt bondage are often aggravated by the need to raise emergency funds or take on loans for health crises. Sometimes entire families are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories and agriculture. Gowri and her husband wanted to support their children and pay for their medical bills, so they took out a loan from a factory owner, agreeing to work in his brick kiln and wood-cutting facility to pay off the debt. This turned out to be a trick, and the owner continually increased the loan, violently forcing the family to continue working long hours for him. Even when Gowri paid of her debt and tried to leave to find a safer workplace, her employer attacked her. This abuse continued for nearly 10 years, until IJM was able to send rescue. Today, the slave owner is standing trial, and the family is safe.

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Roja

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  Roja was forced to marry at the age of 15. She has no food and goes around the neighbourhood begging for rice, oil and some food. Neighbours felt sorry for her in the beginning and tried to give her some supplies but now they avoid her. She is going through immense anxiety and depression. Roja curses her parents for not listening to her and getting her married at such a young age. The community is working on her husband to abandon her and remarry since she miscarried four times. She feels that no other girl should face problems as she did.

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Mardannapalle Pallavi

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  Pallavi was forced to marry at the age of 13, giving birth to a baby boy just a year later. After the birth of her son Pallavi worked long hours in the house and in the field, and was subjected to physical abuse by her husband. Pavalli now has 3 sons. Having had no health care through her pregnancies, she is weak, undernourished and depressed. She thinks only suicide will release her.

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Sujatha

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  Sujatha resisted the prospect of marriage but felt that she had to accept at the age of 15. After marriage, Sujata did all the work at home as well as casual labour, being subjected to physical abuse when her husband came home drunk.

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Rajyamma

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  After marriage, Rajyamma’s mother-in-law forced her to work long hours without rest while she was pregnant. After giving birth to a boy, Rajyamma returned to her in-law's house and continued to work, being forced to give all her earnings to her husband.

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Pilli Lavanya

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  Pilli Lavanya recounts how, despite her resistance, she faced tremendous pressure to marry before she had completed her education. Soon after her marriage, Lavanya tells how she was expected to work from 6am both in the home and fields, as well as having her eating habits regulated. When Lavanya became pregnant, she did not receive adequate healthcare and faced hostility from her husband and his family after giving birth to a girl.

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Chittamma

It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.  Chittamma was forced to marry her cousin when she was 17 years old. Though Chittamma goes out for wage work, everything she earns is given to her husband and she does not have enough food to eat. 

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Bopha

The internal migration of Chinese people seeking work has created an opportunity for human traffickers in China. Moreover the gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. The prevalence of poverty in China makes the poor more vulnerable to enslavement. With the National Bureau of Statistics estimating that 70,170,000 are still living in poverty, people are more desperate and thus more likely to be receptive to fraudulent job offers. Bopha  left her factory job in Phnom Penh when she was told she could find work with a high salary in China. However, upon arrival Bopha was taken to the Bride Market and sold to a man with mental health issues.

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Noi

The internal migration of Chinese people seeking work has created an opportunity for human traffickers in China. Moreover, the gender imbalance caused by the One Child Policy and the cultural preference for male children, has caused a shortage of women which has led to the trafficking of women to be sold as brides. As a result, many women find themselves either deceived by promises of employment, sold or abducted and forced into marrying Chinese men who have paid for them. The prevalence of poverty in China makes the poor more vulnerable to enslavement. With the National Bureau of Statistics estimating that 70,170,000 are still living in poverty, people are more desperate and thus more likely to be receptive to fraudulent job offers.     Noi was just 17 years old when she was forced to drop out of high school in northern Laos’ Luang Namtha province to earn money for her family. When a middleman approached her in early 2015 about marrying a man across the border in China in exchange for around 40 million kip (U.S. $4,830)—despite the legal age for marriage in China being 20—she jumped at the chance. After holding a small party with her relatives, according to the traditions of her Leu ethnic group, Noi travelled to China to live with the man. During the first three months, he treated her kindly and sent small payments to her parents in Laos, but soon his demeanour changed and he began to beat her. 

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Buy

It is estimated that 425,500 people are enslaved in Thailand, with the many subjected to forced labour. Women overseas-workers most often find employment in private households or service sectors, often finding themselves having to pay significant fees for the migration and recruitment process. Domestic servitude is also prevalent with the majority of enslaved being women from rural Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Victims are often physically and sexually abused, confined to the house and find their pay and identity documents withheld.  Buy fled his home in Myanmar after he was forced to join the army and travelled to Thailand. In Thailand, Buy worked for two or three years in the agricultural sector without pay. When he did start asking for the wages that were owed to him, his employers called the police, and because he was undocumented, Buy was arrested. Buy found his way to the Chai Lai Eco Retreat which helps undocumented workers who have been trafficked in Thailand. They assisted him in getting a passport and work permit which ensures he is paid minimum wage. 

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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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Amira

The Central African Republic is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. The majority of those trafficked are children subjected to sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, ambulant vending and forced labour. Moreover, civil unrest in the country has led rebels such as the anti-balaka to conscript children into armed forces in the northwestern and northeastern regions, as well as kidnap, rape and subject to conditions of modern slavery, many Muslim women in the country.   Amira, 16, said that anti-balaka held her near Yaloké, in the Ombella-M’poko province, for 18 months beginning around February 2014, along with two other Muslim women who suffered similar abuse, one of whom was pregnant at the time. he anti-balaka hit her with a whip and a machete, subjected her to repeated gang rape, and made her do housework. 

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Ana B

There are an estimated 57,700 people in modern slavery in the US according to GSI estimates. The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Low, semi- and unskilled domestic and foreign labourers are at risk of forced labour within the agricultural sector. Migrants from Mexico have been found in conditions of forced labour in the USA, where they are subjected to poor living and working conditions including excessive working hours, withholding and non-payment of salaries, confinement to plantations, refusal of medical care and physical and sexual abuse. Ana crossed the Mexico-US border seeking the American Dream and to provide a better life for her son. However instead, she found herself forced to work long hours picking fruit, with little pay and poor living conditions under the threat of violence. Ana was finally freed when two people she had asked for help called the police.

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Victor

There are an estimated 57,700 people in modern slavery in the US according to GSI estimates. The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Victor travelled to the US on a work visa where he thought he would be able to get a better life. However, upon arrival his employer took all his documents and subjected him to verbal and physical abuse. In this narrative Victor talks of the importance of speaking out and asking for help.

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Artem

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. 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. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia.  In 2009 Artem, a 56-year-old Hungarian, was working as a builder and bus driver. The recession left him unemployed, homeless, and supporting his elderly mother. Duped by false promises he came to the UK. He was forced to live in a small house with 25 men, working 70 hours per week for £10. He escaped, living in disused garages but was re-trafficked twice and was too afraid to leave for fear of becoming homeless again. Artem was found by police after a failed suicide attempt. He was identified as a victim of human trafficking and moved to safe accommodation in Birmingham in 2014.

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Trong

China remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subject to forced labour. There have been a number of media reports exposing cases of forced labour in the country, especially among the disabled whose families are unable to care for them and with an underdeveloped government support system leaving them vulnerable. The disparity of work opportunities between rural and urban populations has created a high migrant population vulnerable to human trafficking. The lure of a higher income leads many migrant workers to accept jobs in China without knowing exactly what they entail. Trong went to China from Vietnam after his aunt told him he could get housework near the border. He was told he would work for a couple of months and then return home. However upon arrival he was told by other Vietnamese workers that he had been deceived. Trong had been enslaved into debt bondage in a brick kiln, forced to work to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation. Eventually Trong along with his friend Lin were able to escape.

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Siti

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. Siti was 14 years old when her last remaining relative passed away and she needed to earn money. She was approached by a woman who told her she could get her factory work in Malaysia. However, upon arrival in Malaysia Siti was forced to work long hours in various homes doing domestic work. In the five years she was enslaved, Siti did not earn any money and was subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Following a tip off, Siti was finally rescued during a raid operation.

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Oleg

Forced labour accounts for 98 percent of cases of modern slavery in Russia. Made up of both Russian and foreign workers, particularly from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, these people are enslaved in the agricultural and construction sectors, in factories, private homes, forestry, automotive and fishing industries. Russia also stands as the second largest migrant receiving country in the world, these migrant workers often rely on underground networks and intermediaries, not knowing exactly what work they are committing to. Increased unemployment, poverty and demands for cheap labour among Russian citizens, along with the flow of cross-border migration has created new pockets of vulnerability and opportunities for labour exploitation in the country. Wanting to live independently Oleg took a job he found in a newspaper. Oleg was taken from Moscow along with other men to an unknown location. Forced to live and work in unsanitary and dangerous conditions, the men were threatened with violence at any suggestion of resistance. With the help of one of the bus drivers, Oleg was eventually able to escape and make his way back to home.