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 labor 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. Suleiman travelled from Sudan to Egypt and from there was smuggled into Libya with his brother. Upon arrival they were held in a warehouse for three days before being released and going to Tobruk. Thinking they were being taken to Tripoli, they were shut inside a van with no view to the outside and arrived instead on a farm. A ransom of 15,000 Libyan dinars was demanded from each person for their release. They were stripped of their clothes, beaten, submitted to electrocutions and burnings while being weakened from hunger and thirst.
There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt. As reported over the past five years, Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Egyptian children are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour in domestic service, street begging, and agricultural work. Aaliyah was 14 when she was forced to marry a 26-year-old man.
Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union to Europe and Israel for sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking occurs as well: Ragaa is an Egyptian woman trafficked into sex slavery within Egypt in 1995, and children are trafficked from rural areas to work as laborers in the agriculture industry. Each year over one million children between the ages of seven and 12 work 11 hours a day for Egypt’s agricultural cooperatives on cotton pest management. They face routine beatings by their foremen, and exposure to heat and pesticides.Ragaa’s experience included the offer of a “pleasure marriage,” which is a temporary arrangement to permit sexual intercourse, and a “temporary marriage,” because brothels are forbidden by law and Islamic Sharia in Egypt. Then she explains that her escape brought no sense that the experience was over. The problem of freedom after bondage was an ongoing fear of her traffickers.