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  • Tags: 2004-2008 (enslavement period)
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Choi MA

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.   Choi MA crossed the border into China with a friend in 2001 after being swindled out of her money by a fisherman. Upon arrival, they were both sold to a farmer by a Chinese family they had asked for help. After living a year at this place Choi MA escaped and worked as a house and restaurant helper. Later she was arrested by the police. In April 2004 Choi MA was repatriated to North Korea but managed to escape for a second time in October 2004. Eventually she was able to make it to South Korea.

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Today women represent around half of the total population of international migrants worldwide. They move, more and more, as independent workers, usually to more developed countries in search of a better life for themselves and for their families. Reproducing patterns of gender inequality, at destination they tend to find work in traditionally female-dominated occupations such as domestic work. Their vulnerabilities are often linked to precarious recruitment processes (including passport and contract substitution as well as charging of excessive fees), the absence of adapted assistance and protection mechanisms, the social and cultural isolation they can face at the destination due to language and cultural differences, lack of advance and accurate information on terms and conditions of employment, absence of labour law coverage and/or enforcement in the country of destination, and restrictions on freedom of movement and association, among other things. Maryfe migrated from the Philippines to Hong Kong in the hopes of earning more money abroad to support her children. Maryfe took a job caring for her employer’s disabled child and bedridden father. She was subjected to violence and threats daily and eventually broke her contract to return to the Philippines. However, still needing to provide for her children, Maryfe travelled abroad again, this time to Dubai, taking a job as a nanny. Maryfe was forced to work long hours with little sleep and no time off. When the family she worked for moved to a different country she was forced to go with them. Though Maryfe was able to escape her employment, she is now stuck undocumented in a foreign country.  

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Men and women from throughout Asia and East Africa who migrate to Iraq are subjected to forced labor as construction workers, security guards, cleaners, handymen, and domestic workers. Some foreign migrants are recruited for work in other countries in the region but are forced, coerced, or deceived into working in Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. In January 2016, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs reported approximately 140,000 foreign workers lacked formal work permits. Kumar, a father of two, left his home village in Nepal for Jordan after promises of a well-paid job abroad. Kumar told the UN Human Rights Council that he nearly died as he together with 12 others were transported through two countries in a convey of vans to a military base in Iraq.



Karla Jacinto Romero was trafficked by a 22-year-old man at the age of 12, and enslaved until the age of 16 in brothels, roadside motels and homes in Guadalajara and other cities in Mexico. She estimates that she was raped 43,000 times, by 30 people a day for seven days a week during four years. She gave birth at 15 to a baby. The baby's father, a pimp, used the child to further control Karla, threatening to kill the baby if Karla tried to escape or resist.Karla was rescued during an anti-trafficking operation in Mexico City in 2008. She has shared her antislavery message with the US Congress, the Mexican House of Representatives, and the Vatican. Her testimony was used as evidence in support for H.R. 515 or Megan's Law that mandates U.S. authorities share information pertaining to American child sex offenders when these convicts attempt to travel abroad.