“Some people asked me if I wanted to go work abroad. I did, but things got complicated I never got paid. In 9 years of work I didn’t receive any money”

— —

In Portugal

minors pointed as presumable

Human Traffic victims

people flagged as presumable
Human Traffic victims
people confirmed as

Human Traffic victims

*Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings – Annual Report on Human Beings Traffic 2019

“I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t escape. I was treated badly and felt like a slave”

— —

What is Trafficking in Human Beings

Definition of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is the internal or cross-border transportation of people for abuse and exploitation. It is a is crime defined in international law as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud of deception, of abuse of authority or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.”

This definition comes from laws by the United Nations and by the Council of Europe. In the UK there is no single piece of legislation on human trafficking, however it is bound by the EU Convention which legally came into force in the UK in 2009. The definition of trafficking in the UK is the same as above in international law.

The crime of human trafficking has a complex definition. We can think of it as involving three parts:

o Actions such as recruitment, transporting and receiving victims.

o Using means such as threats, coercion, deception, fraud, abusing vulnerability

o For the purpose of exploitation, such as forced labour or slavery, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, criminal activities, forced marriage among others.

The table below illustrates this:

To be considered as such, the crime of trafficking in human beings requires a combination of one or more factors of each column, as in the examples highlighted by the arrows.

According to its legal definition, we can say that human trafficking happens with the following cycle:


The recruitment and deception of victims of trafficking happens in different ways, depending on the type of victim targeted (adults or children, male or female, transgender) and the type of exploitation planned (labour, sexual or other forms of exploitation). Recruitment can be done through fake job ads, promising opportunities for study or training, promises of love, relationships and support. Traffickers promise to arrange victims migrating to another place (to a different country or place within the same country), or they abduct the victim.

They deceive people by promising a new future (work, study, relationships or other) that never materialises, in order to lure people and lead them into an exploitative situation.

Recruitment can be done either by people unrelated to the victim or by known contacts and even family members.

These people may act alone or as part of a criminal organisation. The contact with the victim can be set personally (especially in the case of acquaintances and family) or through a medium of mass communication, such as newspapers and the internet, which is increasingly being used.

There are also ‘grey’ areas, where legal or semi-legal brokers, companies and/or its agents along supply chains, play a mediating role in the recruitment of potential victims, but are not necessarily acting with criminal intent. For example, employment agencies that broker work for people but which then leads to exploitation or companies unwittingly using exploitative brokers. However overall, much more research is needed on traffickers and their methods: who they are, how they operate, and the techniques and strategies they employ.


The transport and movement of the victims is the second part of the trafficking process. This can be either to a place in the same country where the victim was recruited (within country borders) or a different country (involving crossing of borders). The transport tends not to follow a direct path from the source to the destination – it is common for traffickers to use complex routes and pass through many different countries or regions.

Victims can be transported by the recruiters or future exploiters, or even move alone, following the directions of traffickers.

The ways victims are transported varies. Common forms of public transport (e.g. bus, train, plane) are used, private vehicles (e.g. cars) or other types of transportation for moving several victims at once (e.g. vans, lorries, boats). Transport conditions are often poor: without sufficient oxygen, with excess passengers in inappropriate places (such as within the cargo of lorries) and other ways that damage the health and the lives of people being transported.

There is often confusion between human trafficking and smuggling. While in some cases the transport of victims of trafficking and the illegal migrants smuggled into the UK are similar, this is not always the case, and there crucial differences between human trafficking and people smuggling (see myths and facts below).


Exploitation completes the cycle of trafficking. As mentioned earlier, forms of exploitation in the trafficking of human beings are varied. This can include trafficking for forced labour and slavery-like practices, sexual abuse and exploitation, domestic servitude, criminal exploitation (forced begging, pickpocketing, work in cannabis plantations, benefit fraud), illicit child adoption, forced marriage, organ removal among others (see section on other forms of trafficking). The common feature is that the victims are forced to perform an activity through threats or other forms of coercion and abuse of power and control, and they have no or restricted freedom of movement. The intention to exploit someone after they arrive at a location is central to understanding what human trafficking is, and differentiates it from people smuggling (see myths and facts below).

Myths and Facts
Trafficking in human beings is a complex and dynamic phenomenon, which changes according to different social, economic and cultural contexts. How human trafficking is criminalised and practiced in each country, labour sector and industry, or by traffickers and traffickers’ organisations, differs substantially. This influences how we understand what human trafficking is.

For all these reasons, myths or misconceptions about human trafficking are common. This can lead to confusion, difficulties in accurately understanding this crime and also difficulties in identifying possible trafficking situations and who the victims are. Demystifying and clarifying any misunderstandings about the concept of human trafficking is essential to promote awareness of trafficking and its prevention.

1) Only women are victims of human trafficking and it only involves sexual exploitation.

MYTH. One of the main myths linked to trafficking in human beings is the belief that this only affects women who are forced against their will into sexual acts. Actually victims can be both female and male and of various ages – children account for a large percentage of victims of trafficking. Men, women, transgender people, and children of both sexes are subjected to different forms of exploitation, and in many cases the same victim is subjected to more than one type simultaneously or one form of exploitation leads to another. Different forms of exploitation can include labour exploitation, domestic servitude, criminal exploitation (such as forced labour in cannabis factories), forced marriage, organ harvesting, illicit adoptions among others (see section on different types of trafficking).

2) Human trafficking only happens to immigrants from poor countries with low levels of education.

MYTH. Many victims of human trafficking also come from developed countries and with higher education, for example, victims trafficked from European countries or within country borders such as within the UK.

3) Human trafficking is the same as people smuggling of illegal migrants.

MYTH. There is often confusion between human trafficking and people smuggling. This is because in some cases the transport used is similar (e.g. people hidden in vehicles, in poor conditions, with limited food or oxygen). But this is not always the case, and there are crucial differences between people smuggling and human trafficking:

– Not all victims of trafficking cross borders illegally, whereas smuggling always involves illegal entry.

– Trafficking takes can take place within national borders unlike smuggling.

– Trafficking uses coercion, deception, force or abuse of power whereas smuggling is a voluntary act on the part of migrants.

– Trafficking also involves exploitation of people when they reach their destination.

4) The traffickers may operate through travel and employment agencies, promising work abroad and documentation.

FACT. Many recruiters use tools like fake adverts, employment and travel agencies, to attract and deceive people by false promises, who then may become victims of exploitation. This includes brokers which are intermediary agencies involved in negotiating contracts for a fee are also used, such as employment brokers.

These brokers are not always criminal organisations: there are also ‘grey areas’ where brokers are legal or semi-legal companies or individuals not acting with criminal intent but who lack awareness of employment rights or human trafficking. Or they are unknowingly linked to exploitative and criminal groups in their supply chains.

5) Recruitment of victims in human trafficking always involves physical violence or abduction.

MYTH. There is clear evidence that trafficking in human beings does not necessarily involve the victim being abducted, forcibly taken and subjected to violence. Situations are also common where the person is deceived by believing a false proposition or promise and then the victim moves using his own means to the place where they end up being exploited. Victims are often forced into exploitation through emotional abuse, manipulation, threats, power and control, playing on the person’s vulnerabilities and fears such as keeping them in debt, their illegal immigration status, or social isolation and dependence. Some victims can also be framed for the crime of trafficking as a form of control.

6) During exploitation victims of trafficking do not have the freedom to leave.

FACT. To be a crime of trafficking in human beings, the victim has been held without a viable alternative to leave the exploitative situation. They are forced through physical or moral coercion, to do something against their will (for example they forced to work or into prostitution). Victims may also be involved in crime (such as drug production) as a way to control and keep them dependent on those exploiting them. However, not having the freedom to leave does not mean that all victims are physically locked up. Many victims are held in their exploitative situation through emotional abuse and control which prevents them from leaving.

7) Victims of trafficking in human beings are just illegal immigrants trying to scrounge work or benefits.

MYTH. It is common misconception to see victims of trafficking as immigrants who deliberately cross the border illegally in order to get work or benefits. This does not take into account that victims of trafficking are deceived, tricked, coerced or forced into travelling and when they reach their destination they experience exploitation. This situation is manifestly different from people who choose to migrate freely, either legally or illegally. It is important to note that any initial consent of a trafficked person to travel – legally or illegally – becomes irrelevant if any of the ‘means’ of trafficking are used e.g. if they are deceived, tricked or coerced the fact that they initially consented is irrelevant in international law (see section on definitions of human trafficking). Similarly, not all victims of trafficking travel illegally: in some cases traffickers get all the legal documentation for victims so they enter a country without suspicion and to ensure that the victim arrives. In this way victims are tricked into believing they are being helped legally in their migration and only after arriving at their destination they realise they have been deceived and will be exploited.

8) People will easily know and say that they are victims of trafficking.

MYTH. It is common for people who have been trafficked to not know what trafficking is or to recognise that they are ‘victims’ of trafficking. Instead they will see themselves as being in a bad situation (e.g. seeing themselves as a worker that has been exploited) or they may not be aware that they are being exploited (e.g. not knowing about UK labour rights, or due to complex emotional abuse and control they may not condemn their abuser).

9) All victims of Human Trafficking are foreigners coming from other countries.

MYTH. Victims of human trafficking do not have to cross country borders. There are many cases of UK citizens being trafficked internally within the UK to another location and exploited. Groups at risk can include those unemployed, homeless, with alcohol & drug dependency, mental health problems or looked after children.

10) Human Trafficking is the one of the most profitable crimes in Europe.

FACT. It is estimated that the trade in human beings is one of the most lucrative crimes, second only to drug trafficking and weapons.

11) Trafficking in human beings generates profit through the exploitation of the victims.

FACT. Victims of human trafficking can experience different forms of exploitation which makes profits for exploiters. Either because those exploiting keep all the money that the victim receives (such as prostitution or begging), or because the victim does not receive any wages for the work they do (or being forced to work in agriculture or construction without receiving any salary).

Vulnerable situations to human trafficking

The factors that cause the crime of trafficking in human beings are complex and multilayered. They are often linked to people’s socio-economic circumstances such as poverty, poor employment opportunities, psychological and emotional vulnerabilities, family difficulties, and discrimination. These difficulties can be ‘push factors’ in leading people to look for opportunities elsewhere but they can be vulnerable to exploitation. Traffickers exert control over their victims by exploiting these vulnerabilities, such as isolation and lack of language skills in a new country, illegal immigration status, poverty, age, gender or ill-health. They exploit the victims, generally for money or financial gain. For example, the victim is forced to perform a job without pay (as in labour exploitation) or for any money or benefits to given to the exploiters (sexual exploitation or benefit fraud).

At the other end, increasing demands for a particular skill, service or product can be one of the ‘pull factors’ causing trafficking. For example, labour and skills shortages that increase the demand for migrant labour, in unskilled or undesirable jobs, such as demand for carers, fruit pickers, or domestic workers. There can be high financial gains for traffickers and exploiters e.g. hiring trafficked or undocumented workers as cheap labour, or from women trafficked into prostitution.

For example, a town with several large fruit farms who compete to provide the lowest price can create demand by being willing to employ people without pay or with very low wages to increase profits. But in another location if there is high unemployment and low standard of living, people can become vulnerable to becoming a supply of trafficking victims.

Overall, human trafficking is caused by a complex interaction of risk factors among potential victims. In the above example, the risk factors are unemployment and low living standards. Poverty has been identified as the most common risk factor for human trafficking. However, there are a range of other factors can further trigger or increase vulnerability to human trafficking. Examples of risks can include:

• Separation and isolation from family (e.g. children separated because war or natural disaster, looked after children)

• Domestic violence (both children and adults who have no money to leave the violent situation and who may be at risk of repeated victimisation due to early and or severe abuse).

• Undocumented migrants (in the country illegally and without status)

• Homelessness

• Sex workers (prostitutes, escorts, workers in strip clubs & pornography)

• People or groups subject to racial or ethnic discrimination

• Gender discrimination (e.g. women struggling to get work in origin countries)

• Social exclusion

• Unaccompanied children in transit between different countries

• Child labor

• Children whose birth was not recorded by any official body

• Alcohol or drug dependency that is pre-existing or induced by the traffickers

• Mental Health problems

• Offenders or people involved in crime

• Unemployment

• Lack of inspection in workplaces

• Lack of awareness & information on labour rights and human trafficking

Human Trafficking for Labour Exploitation

What is?
Labour exploitation is a complex issue, with a wide variety of different types and experiences. Definitions are also complex as labour exploitation merges with other types such criminal exploitation (e.g. forced labour in cannabis factories) and sexual exploitation (forced sex work). The types and severity of labour exploitation also varies and can be seen as a continuum or having different levels – ranging from decent work, through to minor and major labour law violations, to extreme exploitation in the form of forced labour. However overall labour exploitation involves a violation of worker’s rights, and subjecting them to poor and degrading conditions.The definition of trafficking in human beings for labor exploitation is when a person is recruited and subjected to forced labor as the most extreme form of exploitation. This means they are forced against their will to work without freedom of movement or contact with other people, and often in poor conditions.

However, while forced labour often happens because of trafficking, it can also happen in cases where trafficking is not present. To understand trafficking for labor exploitation, it is important to differentiate it from other situations that may be related (see diagram below).

Below the continuum or different levels and severity of labour exploitation are explained:

In the first level, are situations where the employer is complying with labour law but violates the rights of workers in relation to decent working conditions. Examples include not providing written contracts for foreign workers, not allocating maternity or sick leave and not provide the safety equipment required for the work.

At the second level are more serious situations, which in addition to the violation of worker rights, involve other behaviors such as abuse of power and control, threats, coercion, injury, lack of health care and hygiene, among others, which can include threats and/ or actual bodily harm.

In the last level we have the most severe situations of violations of workers’ rights, which are defined as the crime of human trafficking. These are situations where the employees was recruited to perform a job and then forced to do another different job, against his will, without receiving any financial payment. They are prevented from contacting others or moving freely, and often experience degrading treatment and conditions, such as poor housing, lack of food and health care. In some cases they experience psychological, physical and / or sexual abuse, or are bought and sold as an object.

To prevent trafficking in human beings, it is critical that workers know their rights, learn to recognise potential situations of exploitation and to seek help if they find that their rights are not being respected.

Many workers do not to know their rights and are not aware of human trafficking. Even in exploitative situations they may not see themselves as victims of labour exploitation or human trafficking and may not seek help.

Forced Labour

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) forced labor is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily” (Article 2 of Convention 29 of the ILO).

The elements within this definition are:

All work or service: includes all types of work, service and employment, regardless of industry, sector or occupation, and including both legal and formal employment as well as illegal and informal employment.

Any person: This refers to adults as well as children, regardless of their nationality. It is not relevant whether the person is a national of the country where forced labour has taken place.

Menace of any penalty: This can be criminal sanctions as well as various forms of coercion, such as threats, violence, the retention of identity documents, confinement, non-payment of wages, or the loss of rights or privileges.

Voluntary: This refers to free and informed consent by workers to enter into employment and their freedom to leave the employment at any time, with reasonable notice as in law or collective agreements.

Forced labor is one of the forms of labor exploitation, but it can also encompass other practices that violate the fundamental rights of the worker, that involve some form of coercion, threat or physical, emotional and/ or sexual abuse. Forced labour is therefore a more serious situation than the violation of labor rights of workers (seen in the previous section).

To help identify situations of forced labour, the ILO provides six indicators, which are generally present in these situations:

• Restricted freedom of movement & isolation: they are not allowed to leave the workplace or can only move in a limited area, or are constantly supervised when moving around.

• Debt bondage: this is when a worker is forced to work to pay back a debt or a loan, and/or held under control by the employer to pay off a debt e.g. the employer provides food and accommodation and does not pay the worker as they have to pay off their ‘debts’ but the employer charges such high prices that the worker can never repay the debt).

• Withholding, not paying wages or taking excessive deductions: which violates previous agreements between the employer and the worker;

• Withholding identity documents: so that the worker cannot leave, prove their identity or immigration status;

• Threats: such as handing undocumented migrants over to the police, threats of violence or sexual assault to the worker or their families.

The occurrence of one or more of these indicators strongly suggests the occurrence of forced labour.

However it is important to note that forced labour does not necessarily imply that the crime of human trafficking has taken place, as forced labour can happen without human trafficking. For the crime of human trafficking to take place, there needs to be (see section below):

o Actions such as recruitment, transporting and receiving victims.

o Using means such as threats, coercion, deception, fraud, abusing vulnerability

o For the purpose of exploitation e.g. forced labour

If you think these practices are happening to you or someone you know, contact APAV (www.apav.pt) for information and support. Need a UK victim support agency?

Labour Exploitation in the context of Human Trafficking

To be a crime of human trafficking for labor exploitation, as well as the exploitation itself there must be the following as in the human trafficking definition:

o Actions such as recruitment, transporting and receiving victims.

o Using means such as threats, coercion, deception, fraud, abusing vulnerability

o For the purpose of exploitation e.g. forced labour


Therefore, in order to be a crime of labor exploitation in the trafficking of human beings, the victim is forced to undertake work against their will or under conditions they disagree with, including excessive hours of work, degrading conditions, not paying wages and other benefits, as well as their freedom of movement being controlled or prevented. These are essential features of this type of crime.

In the UK in the private sector, labor exploitation can occur most often in the following sectors :

• Domestic servitude and care work: victims are forced to perform domestic work in inhuman and degrading conditions (e.g. they are not allowed rest periods, access to health care and live in poor conditions). Domestic workers are very vulnerable to exploitation as they are often very isolated, living in private homes, and dependent on their employer, especially if they do not speak English. In the UK, a new law in 2012 has meant domestic workers are tied to one employer in their visa, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and being unable to leave exploitative situations.

• Construction and agriculture: a number of situations of trafficking for labor exploitation in the UK and other countries have been linked to these sectors. The high occurrence of trafficking may be because these industries often employ seasonal workers and immigrant labour. Periods of high activity in agriculture or construction (e.g. harvest season, or major building projects) can be attractive markets for traffickers to bring their victims. If there is high demand by some companies to quickly get temporary labour this can further attract traffickers.

– Food Processing, Packaging and Factory work: the food production and processing industries have been highlighted as areas of concern, including meat and poultry processing. The fishing industry has also had several high profile cases, including cockle-picking in Morecambe Bay in 2004 where workers were exploited and drowned . There were also a number of cases of forced labour in factories identified especially in 2011.

– Hospitality, Hotels and Cleaning: The piece-meal rates for cleaners can be set so low that it is impossible to reach the minimum wage, and they are at risk of working excessive hours, with no free time and being effectively trapped and unable to get other employment.

– Catering, Restaurants and Takeaways: there have been cases of undocumented workers being forced to work or exploited in the catering sector, for low pay and excessive hours and trapped because of debts to brokers that arranged for them to enter the UK.

There are also ‘grey areas’ in the UK where labour exploitation merges with other types of trafficking in semi-legal and illegal areas, such as:

– Criminal Exploitation: a rising concern in the UK is for victims to be coerced and forced to work in illegal drug production, in particular in factories to cultivate cannabis. There are particularly high numbers in recent years of children trafficked into the UK to work in cannabis factories.

– Sex work: victims are also trafficked to work in the sex trade in semi-legal and illegal spaces, such as strip clubs, as escorts or prostitutes. The ILO considers sex work as part of labour exploitation in its definitions, merging with human trafficking for sexual exploitation, however in the UK this tends to be seen as a separate type of trafficking.

In all these situations, victims are deceived and tricked, often by attractive offers of work, which leads people to agree and in some cases cooperate with the trafficking process (e.g. getting false identity documents or travelling alone to the place of destination). Often, it is only when the work starts that the victim realises it is wrong and they are being exploited, but they are forced to remain in the situation and often feel guilt for having initially consented. It is also very common for victim not to see themselves as being exploited, as someone doing forced labour or as victims of trafficking – this can be because they are not aware of their rights, don’t know what trafficking is, are frightened to come forward or see themselves as workers in a bad situation rather than ‘victims’.

Trafficking Indicators – What to Bear in Mind

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) identifies six main indicators of trafficking for labor exploitation. Having one or more of these indicators present means that there may a situation of labour exploitation may be taking place. Each indicator also has more specific questions to help identity whether this is happening:

1. Restricted freedom of movement & isolation:

• Is the worker detained in the workplace?

• Are they forced to sleep in the workplace?

• Are there any visible signs that the worker is not free to leave your workplace? E.g. barbed wire or the presence of armed guards or other constraints?

3. Debt Bondage:

• Does the worker have to reimburse the employer any fees for recruiting them or transport? Are these deducted from their salary?

• Are they forced to pay excessive fees for accommodation, food or tools, which are deducted from their salary?

• Are they in debt or have been given any money by the employer that they have paid back and stops them from leaving?

4. Withholding, not paying wages or taking excessive deductions:

• Does the employee have a regular work contract and receive a salary? If not, how are their wages paid?

• What amount are they paid in relation to the national minimum wage?

• Are they being paid illegally/ cash in hand?

• Are they getting any payment for their work? Are illegal deductions being made from their wages?

• Has the worker been deceived by the amount they would be paid?

• Are their wages are paid regularly?

• Is the worker being paid in kind? e.g. accommodation, food, rather than money?

5. Withholding identity documents:

• Does the worker have their identity documents in their possession?

• If not, have these been kept by the employer or supervisor? Why?

• Does the worker have access to their documents at any time?

6. Threats:

• Does the worker make inconsistent statements and / or show signs of “brainwashing” by the employer?

• Do they mention any threats against them, their colleagues or their family?

• Are there any signs that the employee is experiencing extortion or blackmail (with or without the employer’s knowledge)?

• Does the worker show any anxiety or fear?

• Are they forced to work excessive extra hours unpaid or perform tasks they do not want to do? Are threatened if they refuse?

• Is the worker a migrant without legal documentation and been threatened to be given to the police or immigration authorities?

• Have they or their families been threatened with physical or sexual violence?

• Does the worker shows any signs of physical abuse, including bruises?

• Are there any sign of confusion or signs of violence?

• Do the supervisors / employers demonstrate violent behavior?

If yourself or someone you know has one or more of these indicators in their work situation, contact APAV (www.apav.pt) for information and support. Or report a situation of trafficking for labor exploitation to the police. Add UK contacts/ victim support organisations.

Other forms of human trafficking

Other forms of human trafficking

There are many different forms of exploitation in human trafficking and new forms of exploitation are continually emerging. The common feature is that the victim is forced to perform an activity against their will through threats or other forms of coercion, and are denied their freedom of movement.

Many forms of exploitation aim to make a profit at the expense of the victims. Either because the victim is forced to do a job without pay (e.g. in labour exploitation), or because the victim is forced to give money and other goods to those exploiting them (e.g. in prostitution and begging). However this is not always the case as in trafficking for forced marriage.

There are blurred boundaries between the different forms of exploitation in human trafficking, and often one type can lead to another e.g. labour exploitation leads to criminal exploitation in cannabis factories, which then leads to sexual exploitation.

Forms of exploitation in human trafficking can include:

· Labour exploitation: This involves victims being forced or compelled to work very long hours, often in poor conditions, with little or no pay, and being unable to leave. In many cases victims experience verbal threats, psychological control or abuse, or in some cases violence. The United Nations describes labour exploitation as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily” (Article 2 of the Convention No. 29 of the International Labour Organisation).
– Begging: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines begging as “a set of activities through which an individual begs money from a stranger because of being poor or require charitable donations to their health or religious reasons”. Forced begging is when someone is compelled by coercion or violence to practice begging, which is understood by the ILO as a form of forced labour. Beggars can also sell small items such as flowers in exchange for values that do not have any relation with the value of the items for sale.

· Slavery: This is where someone reduces a victim to the state or condition of a slave, including leasing, buying or taking possession of the person with the intention of maintaining them in the condition of a slave. Slavery is also a crime under anti-slavery laws, such as the new law to be introduced in the UK later in 2014. These laws includes situations of human trafficking which criminalises the transporting and grooming people for the purpose of slavery
– Sexual Exploitation: this involves exploiting the vulnerability of another person through abuse of power, trust and deception and forcing them to do any kind of non-consensual or abusive sexual acts without the victims permission. This includes but is not limited to, sexual acts for such as prostitution, escort work, strip clubs and pornography. It can also involve trafficking for sex tourism, where victims are trafficked to areas that tourists visit for the purpose of prostitution and sexual exploitation (such as of children). Victims of sexual exploitation are controlled through physical and emotional abuse and violence, and women, men, transgender people and children can all be victims.
– Domestic servitude: This involves the victim being forced to work in private households, to perform household tasks such as cleaning, childcare, cooking and housekeeping. They are often very isolated, trapped, with little or no unsupervised freedom of movement outside the home, and work long hours for no pay. In rare cases where they are paid this is very low, as they are charged for food and accommodation.

· Extraction of Organs: trafficking in human beings can also be directed towards the removal of organs from the bodies of victims for illegal sale for organ transplants. Most cases involve kidneys, which are in high demand.

· Criminal Activities: through this form of exploitation, the victims are forced, through threats or other forms of coercion, to be involved in petty crimes (such as theft or pickpocketing) or more serious crimes (such as drug production and trafficking). For example, in the UK there are currently high numbers of victims, particularly children, trafficked into the country to work in cannabis factories. Exploiters profit from the crimes undertaken by victims such as stolen goods or profits from drug production and trafficking.

· Adoption: illegal adoption can be one of the reasons children and young people are trafficked and involves enticing and transporting victims for the purpose of subjecting them to illegal adoption processes, either in their own country or abroad.

· Other forms of exploitation: the current wording of United Nations international law contains a more open definition of trafficking in human beings, allowing for other forms of exploitation other than those mentioned above. For example, this can include human sacrifice, the recruitment of child soldiers, suicide bombers, and drug mules, which can also have elements of human trafficking.

One of the main characteristics of trafficking in human beings is that it always involves exploiting the vulnerability of the victim. The concept of “vulnerability” may vary in the law of different countries, but this can include the background of the victims, the location and environment where they live and also personal factors that may increase their vulnerability to becoming victims of trafficking.
For example, traffickers who offer an intended victim a fake job in the UK take advantage of the vulnerability of people who live in countries with high rates of poverty and who struggle to access the labor market. Because of their situation the potential victim accepts the offer as they believe they will get a legitimate job, but they can easily be led into exploitation.
Victims are often recruited by being offered a fake job, education, better life or other opportunity in the UK, particularly if they come from situations of poverty or high unemployment. Common forms of coercion in the UK to control victims and prevent them leaving exploitative situations, are threats to turn them to the immigration authorities because they are in the country illegally, debt bondage, and threats to both the victim and their family.

Project Briseis

proj-brise-01 copy

Learn More

The Briseis Project is a European project developed by APAV the Portuguese Association for Victim Support, co-funded by the European Commission. It has the following partners:

Portuguese Partners: Authority for Working Conditions (ACT); Aliens and Borders Service (SEF); General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP); Observatory on Trafficking in Human Beings (OTSH)

Transnational Partners: Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority (Sweden); Soros Foundation (Romania); The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (UK), La Strada International (Netherlands)

The main objectives of Project Briseis is to promote awareness of trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation among employers in high risk sectors (e.g. construction, agriculture and others) and with the general public.

The core activities in the project include:

– developing a public awareness campaign;

– developing training on human trafficking for labor exploitation for professionals who may come into contact with victims (e.g. health, victim support, police) in each of the partner countries (Portugal, Sweden, Romania, United Kingdom);

– Awareness-raising meetings with employers in high risk sectors

– Developing a guidance manual for employers in high-risk sectors, to help them better prevent and address trafficking in human beings for labor exploitation.

This Project Briseis website aims to raise awareness with different groups about trafficking in human beings for labour exploitation, so they can recognise situations related to this crime and avoid risky situations.

This website was developed with the financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Commission – DG Home Affairs. The European Commission disclaims any liability regarding the content of this website. The responsibility for the accuracy of the information rests with its authors.

Back to Top