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There are an estimated 15,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United Arab Emirates which acts as a destination and transit country for men and women subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Foreign workers recruited globally account for over 95% of the country’s private workforce. Some are subjected to practices indicative to trafficking such as passport retention, non-payment of wages and substandard food and housing. Women travelling willingly to the UAE to work as domestic workers, massage therapists, beauticians, hotel cleaners, or elsewhere in the service sector, are sometimes subjected to forced labour or sex trafficking after arrival.  Zulekha worked in a garment factory before leaving for Dubai in March 2001. She was 20 years old and unmarried. Though she had heard about the risks of girls being trafficked from Bangladesh, Zulekha chose to migrate anyway. Upon arrival she was taken to a house and provided a good meal. However, the next day Zulekha was taken to a hotel and forced to provide sexual services to men for 2 months. After this time Zulekha became pregnant and her broker sent her back to Bangladesh. 

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Zipora was enslaved as a domestic servant in the United States by a diplomat and his family, who beat her and failed to meet the terms of the contract originally agreed upon. When she required medical care, they refused to provide it for 2 years. It was the actions of a stranger that helped her out of her enslavement and to get a T-visa, a special visa status for victims of trafficking. In 2007 Zipora filed a suit against her captors.

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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.  Zeinaba was 12 years old when she was captured by the anti-balaka and spent a week being raped and forced to cook and clean for the militia group under the threat of physical violence. 

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There are an estimated 85,000 people living in modern slavery in Yemen (GSI 2018). Young girls are subjected to child forced marriage, with UNICEF estimating 32% of girls being married before the age of 18. There is currently no legal age of marriage in Yemen and poverty, the practice of dowry and strict social and religious customs are drivers of child marriage in the country. With the onset of conflict within the country, estimates suggest that child marriage is on the rise.Zamzam was married at 13-years-old.

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Born in Albania, Zamira was trafficked into Belgium, where by some estimates Albanian girls aged 14 and 15 make up nearly half of the foreign women forced into prostitution. Many women are trafficked into richer Western European countries from the poorer Eastern countries, including Albania. The fall of communism in 1991 led to a rise in organized crime in Albania: in 2001 it was estimated 100,000 Albanian women and girls had been trafficked to Western European and other Balkan countries in the preceding ten years. More than 65 percent of Albanian sex-trafficking victims are minors at the time they are trafficked, and at least 50 percent of victims leave home under the false impression that they will be married or engaged to an Albanian or foreigner and live abroad. Another ten percent are kidnapped or forced into prostitution. The women and girls receive little or no pay for their work, and are commonly tortured if they do not comply.



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 non-state armed groups and forced marriage. Zakir travelled to his aunt’s house in Mumbai where he was told he would get an education. However upon arrival he was forced to work in the zari factory next door. Subjected to physical and verbal abuse daily, Zakir received no money for his work. Eventually Zakir was rescued by an anti-trafficking organisation and went back to school.

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Men, women and children are victims of human trafficking for forced labour in the Thai fishing industry. Enslaved people are subjected to physical abuse, excessive and inhumane working hours, sleep and food deprivation, forced use of methamphetamines and long trips at sea confined to the vessel. Due to the fishing industry relying on trans-shipments at sea to reduce expenditure, some find themselves trapped on long-haul trawlers for years at a time. This makes the monitoring of enslaves labour on fishing vessels costly and difficult. The Thai Government has faced severe pressure to tackle forced labour specifically in the fishing sector, with the European Commission threatening a trade ban in 2015 for not taking sufficient measures to combat illegal and unregulated fishing that would cause the loss of up to US$1.4million a year in seafood exports. As a result the Government have reportedly accelerated efforts to combat labour exploitation, however despite this most workers in the Thai fishing sectors remain unregistered.    Yum was in Cambodia looking for work when he decided to travel with friends to Thailand. On the way, they were met by a man who offered them work on his farm, which they accepted. They were forced to work long hours with no wages. After a month, the farmer fled and Yum was offered work on a construction site in Thailand. However, in Thailand Yum arrived not at a construction site but a sea port. It was only after days on a fishing vessel that he was told he had been sold. Subjected to months at sea with poor nutrition and daily beatings, Yum was finally able to escape one the boat reached Indonesian waters. 

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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the country prompts many to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries, especially China. Within North Korea, forced labour is part of an established system of political repression. The government subjects its nationals to forced labour through mass mobilisations and in North Korean prison camps. There are an estimated 80 000 to 120 000 prisoners being held in political prison camps in remote areas of the country.  Here men, women and children are subjected to unhygienic living conditions, beatings, torture, rape, lack of medical care and insufficient food. Many do not survive and furnaces and mass graves are used to dispose the bodies of those who die.    Young Soon, along with her family, was forced into an internment camp in North Korea as a political prisoner. Forced to live in a cramped hut and fed only gruel, Young Soon worked long hours in a corn field. All members of her family either died of malnutrition or were killed. After nine years, Young-Soon was able to escape to South Korea. 

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Mauritania is one of the last countries in the world where people are still born into hereditary slavery, which means they are literally owned by other people, and forced to work for masters their entire lives. People in slavery come from the Haratine ethnic group, historically enslaved by White Moors. They can be bought and sold, or given as gifts, and face a lifetime of exploitation and abuse. Rape of female slaves is common and their children also become slaves. They are Muslims, and many believe that it is Allah’s wish for them to be enslaved because they are told that their paradise is bound to their Master. In reality, Islam dictates that a Muslim cannot enslave a fellow Muslim. Since 2007 slavery has been criminalised in Mauritania but the law is not enforced and the government is reluctant to acknowledge the existence of the problem.

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Yonathan Tekle

There is an estimated 48,000 people living in modern slavery in Libya (GSI 2018). Libya is a major transit destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe by sea. Human trafficking networks have prospered amid lawlessness, created by the warring militias that have been fighting for control of territories since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Highly organized trafficking and migrants smuggling networks that reach into Libya from Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and other sub-Saharan states subject migrants to forced labour and forced prostitution through fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, debt bondage, and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. In some cases, migrants reportedly pay smuggling fees to reach Tripoli, but once they cross the Libyan border they are sometimes abandoned in southern cities or the desert where they are susceptible to severe forms of abuse and human trafficking.  For the past five months, Yonathan has been held inside a container illegally in the town of Gharyan, 91km from the capital, Tripoli. Yonathan was a soldier before deserting and fleeing Eritrea in December 2016. He had arranged for Sudanese smugglers to take him to Libya - and the journey became more hazardous and expensive than he had ever imagined. After he crossed the border into Sudan, the smugglers demanded more money than agreed to take him to Khartoum. He had to call home and scramble for money.

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There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt, 465,000 in Sudan and an estimated 451,000 in Eritrea (GSI 2018). Since 2006 tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Until 2010, they passed through Sinai voluntarily and generally without any problems and crossed in to Israel. However, since then, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sold them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai who have subjected at least hundreds to violence in order to extort large sums of money from their relatives. Yonas* was kidnapped by traffickers traffickers near Sudan’s Shagarab refugee camp in March 2012. These traffickers handed him over to Egyptian traffickers in southern Egypt, who held him in Sinai with 24 other men and eight women for six weeks.

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The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. While the bonded labour system is formally abolished and criminalised, recent research indicated that bonded labour is still prevalent in India. A 2016 report found that in the state of Tamil Nadu, 351 of 743 spinning mills used bonded labour schemes, otherwise known as Sumangali schemes. Similarly in granite quarries, wage advances and loans with an interest ranging from 24% to 36% are used to bond workers. Situations of debt bondage are often aggravated by the need to raise emergency funds or take on loans for health crises.  Yogendra tells of his experience as a bonded labourer in Uttar Pradesh. He was approached by a broker offering him 50,000 rupees and a hectare of land if he worked a year. After signing a blank piece of paper, Yogendra received just 37,000 rupees and was forced to work under threats and verbal abuse. Yogendra tells of having to work off money borrowed for his sister’s wedding and his children’s school fees.

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Ying B.

Ying was forced into prostitution after she was trafficked to France, and then to the UK. She was able to escape and was helped by Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), a support service in Scotland for trafficking survivors. The majority of those trafficked to the UK have been identified victims of sexual exploitation, followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation.

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Ying A.

Unknown numbers of people have been held as slave laborers in China’s “Laogai” (labor reform camps). Human rights organizations claim that Falon Gong practitioners are often targeted for arrest, along with ethnic minorities, Catholics, Protestants, and Tibetans. By some estimates around 100,000 Falon Gong practitioners have been sent to the Laogai. Ying was one of these individuals. A student in France, she was imprisoned in 2000 while visiting her family in China.


Yin Liping

Yin Liping is a Falun Gong practitioner who was enslaved as a political prisoner in China. She was arrested seven times between 2000 and 2013, tortured, and incarcerated in labour camps, including the Masanjia Labor Camp, during three of her detentions. In August 2013, she escaped from China to Thailand and in 2015 she was granted refugee status in the United States. She told her story at a Congressional hearing on China's use of systematic torture in its detention facilities.


Yesmien Ali

The Global Slavery Index estimates that there were 136,000 people living in modern slavery in the United Kingdom (UK) on any given day in 2016, reflecting a prevalence rate of 2.1 victims for every thousand people in the country. According to a 2018 report by the Home Office, in 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,196 cases. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU through the public helpline or by email in relation to a new case. Since 2012, the FMU has provided support to between 1,200 and 1,400 cases per year. At 12 Ali was engaged to a 24-year-old relative from her mother’s side of the family. At 16, she was sent to Pakistan for a shotgun marriage. The abuses Ali suffered during her months in Kashmir, at her mother-in-law’s hands, left her permanently blind in one eye and led to her missing the chance to pay her last respects to her dying father.


Yeonmi Park (Narrative 2)

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death. Yeonmi Park was 13 years old a broker offered her and her mother a chance to escape starvation in North Korea to China. However, when they arrived Park tells of how the first thing she saw was her mother raped. Both Park and her mother were sold to Chinese men as brides. Park was able to escape China to South Korea by crossing the Gobi desert. She is now studying at Columbia University in New York and runs a non-profit organisation to save other girls trafficked to China.


Yeonmi Park

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the  country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death.  Yeonmi Park and her mother fled North Korea for China when she was 13 years old, hoping to find food and work. Instead Yeonmi and her mother were sold as brides to Chinese men.  

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There are an estimated 1,386,000 people living in modern slavery in Nigeria (GSI 2018). Since 2009, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamist insurgent movement, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, which means “Western Education is Forbidden,” has waged a violent campaign against the Nigerian government in its bid to impose Islamic law. The attacks have increasingly targeted civilians, mainly in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. Borno State, the birthplace of Boko Haram, has suffered the highest number of attacks. A range of issues, including widespread poverty, corruption, security force abuse, and longstanding impunity for a range of crimes have created fertile ground in Nigeria for militant armed groups like Boko Haram.In some cases, women and children are abducted from predominantly Christian areas and forced to convert to Islam. These abductions took place most often in Boko Haram’s then-strongholds of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, or Damaturu, the capital of neighboring Yobe State. In most of the documented cases, married women were abducted as punishment for not supporting the group’s ideology, while unmarried women and girls were taken as brides after insurgents hastily offered a dowry to the families, who feared to resist. 18-year-old Yejide* was not yet married when a Boko Haram combatant sexually abused her when she went to use the bathroom.

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 Thousands of women and children were taken into slavery during the decades of Sudan’s civil war, mainly from Northern Bahr El Ghazal (where the narrator was liberated) and the Nuba Mountains. Slave-taking was revived in 1985 by the National Islamic government of Sudan primarily as a weapon against counterinsurgents in the South, and secondarily a way to reimburse its surrogate soldiers for neutralizing this threat. In 1989 the government created the Popular Defense Forces (PDF), militia trained to raid villages and take people as slaves. PDF recruits were allowed to keep whoever they captured, along with booty of grain and cattle. One study documents 12,000 abductions by name, while NGOs offer estimates ranging from 15,000 to 200,000. The slaves were often moved to large towns in the north on week-long journeys during which the women were repeatedly raped, and then sold to new masters who used them without pay for farming and sexual services. The peace process brought these PDF abductions to an end, but inter-tribal abductions continue in Southern Sudan. In addition, Sudanese children are used by rebel groups in the ongoing conflict in Darfur; Sudanese boys from the country’s eastern Rashaida tribe continue to be trafficked to the Middle East for use as camel jockeys; the rebel organization “Lord’s Resistance Army” has forcibly conscripted children in Southern Sudan for use as combatants in its war against Uganda; and the institution of chattel slavery continues in southern Darfur and southern Kordofan.Yei was captured and sold as a slave to Abdullah who tried to force him to convert to Islam. When he refused, Yei was sent to a cattle camp.