Types of Human Trafficking

There are four broad categories of exploitation linked to human trafficking:

1. Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation involves any non-consensual or abusive sexual acts performed without a victim’s permission. This includes but is not limited to prostitution, escort work and pornography. Women, men and children of both sexes can be victims. Many will have been deceived with promises of a better life and then controlled through violence and abuse. 

2. Forced Labour

Forced labour involves victims being compelled to work very long hours, often in arduous conditions, and to hand over the majority if not all of their wages to their traffickers. Forced labour crucially implies the use of coercion and lack of freedom or choice for the victim. In many cases victims are subjected to verbal threats or violence to achieve compliance.

Forced labour includes forced criminality. That means making people commit crime from begging, stealing and being a 'gardener' in a cannabis farm.

Manufacturing, entertainment, travel, farming and construction industries throughout the world have been found to use forced labour by victims of human trafficking to some extent, with a marked increase in reported numbers in recent years. Often large numbers of individuals are housed in single dwellings and there is evidence of ‘hot bunking’, where a returning shift takes up the sleeping accommodation of those starting the next shift.

The International Labour Organisation [ILO] has identified six elements which individually or collectively can indicate forced labour.

These are:

  • threats or actual physical harm;
  • restriction of movement and confinement to the workplace or to a limited area;
  • debt-bondage;
  • withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions that violate previously made agreements;
  • retention of passports and identity documents (the workers can neither leave nor prove their identity status); and,
  • threat of denunciation to the authorities where the worker is of illegal status.

3. Domestic Servitude

Domestic servitude involves the victim being forced to work in private households. Their movement will often be restricted and they will be forced to perform household tasks such as child care and house-keeping over long hours and for little if any pay.

Victims will lead very isolated lives and have little or no unsupervised freedom. Their own privacy and comfort will be minimal, often sleeping on a mattress on the floor in an open part of the house.

In rare circumstances where victims receive a wage it will be heavily reduced, ostensibly to pay for food and accommodation.

4. Organ Harvesting

Organ harvesting involves trafficking people in order to use their internal organs for transplant. The illegal trade is dominated by kidneys, which are in the greatest demand and are the only major organs that can be wholly transplanted with relatively few risks to the life of the donor.