The other kind of human trafficking

I have been mostly blogging about human sex trafficking, which is what really convicted me about this. That is one type of human trafficking, but another type (which is growing just as fast) is human trafficking for labor purposes.

Of course, any type of human trafficking is sickly, but to think of manual labor as an American makes me horrified in a different way.

Traffickers lure immigrants or desperate people who need money by putting out job offers through local papers or word of mouth. This is also how women get lured into the sex trafficking industry as well. They then smuggle these people into other countries (usually) and make them work long hours, in hard conditions, with little or no pay.

Out of all the stories I’ve read about victims, I am seeing just as many labor trafficking as sex trafficking. One story was a man from Bolivia, this one is from Call + Response. His name is Juan Rivera, 35 years old. He was coaxed into a job and felt he had to take it so he could support his family and his pregnant wife. He had to “pay his way over” (really give a ton of money to his traffickers so they could smuggle him into Russia.)

“But once in Russia, none of that money materialized. What awaited him instead were exploitation, overcrowded accommodation and hunger. It was then that Mr Rivera realised he had been a victim of human trafficking. “We had to work for 12 hours a day, even on Saturdays,” he remembers. “They didn’t give us a cent; only some food, which we had to share.” During more than two long months in Russia, he worked at a car factory and slept in a tiny room with several other Bolivians.”

He was unable to go out in public (outside) because his traffickers feared the police finding the smuggled workers. He finally escaped after a call to the Bolivian embassy in Moscow saying that more than 200 workers were being held with little food and poor conditions.

He was left with debt. He borrowed $9,500 and still owes his brother $7,000 which is a fortune in Bolivia (minimum living is $116 a month.)

“Many of these young people can’t see a future here,” he says. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. “So when somebody tells them ‘If you go with us, you will work eight hours and gain $1,000 dollars a month’, this is attractive for them.

This situation is not uncommon. The article goes on to talk about sweatshops (especially in South America.) Poor families send young children to find work. Out in the world, by themselves, young children take what is first offered. Can you imagine how many of those are operated by North American companies? In the Bolivian mining territories, children are being sold to traffickers for as little as $3.

But, this is not just in the poor countries.  In Georgia (October 2011) a woman was sentenced to 11+ years for enslaving 2 Nigerian women to do manual labor for her. “Prosecutors said she lured the women to Georgia on separate occasions with false promises of education and then forced them to do menial labor. They say she routinely beat them, forced them to eat spoilt food and cut her lawn by hand” (Washington Post.)

In Philadelphia, two brothers smuggled poor Ukrainian villagers for work. Workers were forced to clean for long hours in retail stores and business offices for little or no pay. “Nine workers who testified described being raped, beaten or threatened by Omelyan Botsvynyuk, 52, a compact man who glared at prosecutors after the verdict and shouted at them in his native tongue as he was led out in handcuffs. He had denied the accusations when he testified.” (

I’ve been trying to think of why people would do this to other people. I mean, Americans are lazy, but are we THAT lazy to be so cruel? This really does show how depraved people are becoming.

This makes me really appreciate some things… Things I should be thankful for:

  • Freedom. We live in America, which is cushy so we aren’t even close to being in terrible conditions.
  • Jobs. I have a nice college job in a retail store earning enough for college expenses. We don’t have to leave our families to go to a foreign country to make money. We don’t live in any kind of place where we would be so desperate to have to do that. We even have social security… for now.
  • People who look out for me. If I ever get taken, I know there will be people who will look for me & search.
  • Having the Lord. Protection. In whatever situation we are in, He is there.
Recognizing the signs of a victim: (Polaris project)

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)


  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

Please, keep praying!
Thank you!

About elli

I'm trying to "realize the full assurance of hope until the end." To be an "imitator of those who through faith and patience inherit the promise." And spreading the "unchangeableness" and "hope" of God's purpose. Heb. 7
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