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2011 (Narrative Date)

There are an estimated 403,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). The US attracts migrants and refugees who are particularly at risk of vulnerability to human trafficking. Trafficking victims often responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the US migrate willingly and are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in industries such as forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.

Dacha loaned 22,000 dollars to pay for his transport to the United States from Thailand. He was then forced to work as a labourer on a farm with his wages withheld.

You’re under their control totally. You can only eat when they tell you to. If you’re ill, they still make you work. At the time, my family was facing difficulties. We were poor and in a lot of debt.

20,000 US dollars is a lot of money. It would be impossible for me to earn that much in Thailand, but it was necessary, since I wanted to build a future for my family. I had to get a bank loan of around 22,000 dollars in total.

My expectations were very high, so were those of my family. I had very high hopes, it was my last resort.

If I went to work somewhere else the debt would be worse. Our families were pinning their hopes on us.

‘Slave’ is the lowest name. You’re totally under someone’s command. You can only eat when they tell you to. If you’re ill, they still make you work. If you don’t do it, you’re punished. In the old days in Thailand your nails and fingers would be crushed. Your temples would be crushed by metal. There’s no difference now, at heart we feel like slaves. It hurts more than being crushed. 

It’s seven years since I saw my family. I haven’t been back since then.

Narrative and images provided by Al Jazeera