Human Trafficking in PolandThe Republic of Poland, located within central Europe, is one of the many European countries that human trafficking has affected. Human trafficking is a complex global issue that is extremely difficult to eliminate as it is often invisible and difficult for authorities to track. In Poland, children and women are common targets for traffickers. Victims often come from low-income areas and have little legal protection, making it easier for traffickers to transport victims to and from Poland. In order to eliminate human trafficking in Poland, the country must address underlying issues, such as poverty.

Underlying Problems

Women and children are the most common victims of human trafficking globally. Approximately 70% of trafficking victims are women and 50% of trafficking victims are children. Additionally, estimates have stated that traffickers traffick 84% of victims globally for the purpose of sexually exploiting them. Sexual exploitation is also the most common form of human trafficking in Poland. Trafficking victims may have limited education, may not be aware of signs of trafficking and may be in positions where they are desperate to help their families monetarily. As a result, they may be vulnerable to traffickers.

Poverty has a significant connection to trafficking. As of 2020, approximately 5% of Polish citizens were living in a state of extreme poverty. Individuals and families who live in extreme poverty are the most susceptible to becoming victims of human trafficking in Poland. They are often desperate for additional sources of income and traffickers often take advantage of this desperation. Traffickers frequently make false promises in order to lure in these vulnerable groups, such as saying they have a place of work for them that pays a substantial amount of money.

COVID-19’s Influence on Human Trafficking

Economic disparities due to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted Poland. The Polish unemployment rate average was approximately 6% from 2020 to 2021, reflecting a large increase from Poland’s average unemployment rate of 3.2% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. Due to the fact that human trafficking is invisible and underreported, the exact numbers of global victims are difficult to determine. However, estimates have indicated that there are 109,216 trafficking victims globally. The COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced underreporting due to a lack of access to resources to inform the reports.

Additionally, the economic desperation of the COVID-19 pandemic has indirectly influenced an increase in the dangers of human trafficking. Traffickers are more likely to put their victims in more dangerous and violent situations so they can make a profit. Additionally, the fact that lockdowns have confined families to the home has made it difficult for people to notice and report potential cases of abuse and trafficking. As a result, victims are more vulnerable than before as lockdowns have made it easier for traffickers to veil their already hidden crimes.

Poland’s Efforts to Reduce Human Trafficking

The Polish government has actively taken measures to reduce human trafficking in Poland in recent years. This has involved passing laws that criminalize human trafficking as well as implementing various strategies that act against trafficking. Examples of such strategies include applying more effort to identify victims and traffickers and providing more in-depth training to authorities so that they can learn the signs of trafficking. Additionally, the Polish government has implemented national anti-trafficking projects countrywide. These projects aim to educate vulnerable individuals, especially Polish children, on the signs of human trafficking and what to do if they enter a threatening situation.

Non-governmental organizations within Poland have worked toward establishing consulting and intervention centers to help trafficking victims. La Strada Foundation against Trafficking and Slavery and Association Po MOC are two prominent organizations that have carried out the work of Poland’s National Consulting and Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking. These organizations have successfully established two shelters for female trafficking victims and intervention assistance for physical, mental and legal matters. Combined, these organizations have helped 630 Polish citizens and 746 foreigners from 2011 to 2017.

The Polish government has actively worked toward ending human trafficking in Poland through the establishment of organizations that help victims, laws that criminalize human trafficking and the implementation of anti-trafficking projects. Through these efforts of shedding awareness on the prevalence of human trafficking, individuals can become more aware of the warning signs and dangers of human trafficking in Poland and across the world.

Francesca Giuliano
Photo: Flickr

The Fight for Freedom: Most Common Types of Human TraffickingThe prevalence of human trafficking is a present-day example of the existence of slavery. This global human rights issue is a billion-dollar crime industry, affecting millions of individuals in almost every nation in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion… for the purpose of exploitation.”

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that has three elements: the act, the means and the purpose. The act refers to the transfer or recruitment of persons. The means is how trafficking is done, which includes the threat, force or deception used to control victims. The purpose of exploitation includes sex, labor, slavery or the removal of organs. According to the Human Rights Commission, the most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage.

Common Types of Human Trafficking

Sex trafficking refers to the forced participation of commercial sex acts; women and children are the most vulnerable to this type of human trafficking. This type of trafficking forms a significant portion of the transnational present-day slavery. The commercial sex trade exploits one million children a year. Women and young girls make up 80 percent of the trafficked victims.

Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is where individuals provide labor through coercion, force or fraudulent means. According to the 2017 Estimates of Modern Slavery, there are 24.9 million victims of forced labor. Millions of enslaved individuals worldwide produce goods in various supply chains under violence and threat. These include the agricultural, mineral, construction and textile industries.

Debt bondage is also one of the most common types of human trafficking in which a person forcibly works in order to pay a debt. Migrant laborers are particularly vulnerable to this form of trafficking, as many regions have systematic schemes designed to exploit workers. Debt bondage involves a debt that cannot be paid off within a reasonable time frame. Also known as debt slavery, the period of debt strips the victim of basic freedom. A cycle of debt is then created and maintained through the abuse of contracts, increasing debt interest, increasing living expenses and higher labor expectations.

Response to the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking

Despite the large number of individuals that have fallen victim to human trafficking, there are many organizations that dedicate their efforts to address human trafficking issues. UNODC has established a comprehensive approach to tackle human trafficking. The strategy can be best viewed as three interdependent components which include: raising awareness, capacity building and maintaining strong partnerships.

Additionally, Polaris is a leading organization committed to the worldwide battle to end modern slavery. The organization’s model places an emphasis on the victims of human trafficking. Polaris provides assistance in the restoration of the victim’s freedom, helping survivors reintegrate back into society.

In other parts of the world, nonprofits continue to investigate core issues, such as the conditions that increase the vulnerability to human trafficking. The Freedom Project is an Australian movement that seeks to empower communities and focus on the prevention of human trafficking.

In response to these alarming human trafficking statistics, global movements dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery are leading the way to freedom.

– Dane de Leon

Photo: Flickr

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are set to be voted this month. These goals will shape development goals for the next 15 years for the U.N. and its member states.

Among the goals is achieving economic growth that will result in decent employment for all. Part of this goal includes a provision for addressing modern slavery and human trafficking, a human rights issue and a booming economy.

The awareness behind modern slavery has grown, now the focus is on understanding the roots. Before this, modern slavery and development were treated separately, and how interrelated they are was not seen.

If we think about it, how could modern slavery not affect development given that it negatively affects health, economic growth, rule of law, women’s empowerment and lifetime prospects?

Modern slavery also robs many young people who make up the majority of modern slaves, the opportunity to contribute to their society. Young people would contribute the most and for a longer time period.

Globalization plays a big role in the existence of modern slavery. The responsibility of it falls on major players such as businesses, financial sectors and individuals play a part in and should be aware of the possible ways in which we may be contributing to it.

The question still remains if addressing it as a SDG is enough? Modern slavery exists despite 12 international conventions and over 300 international treaties banning its existence. The Palermo Protocol in 2000 resulted in anti-slavery activity and legislation, but the movement has failed with little research asking why and what could be done differently.

Part of the problem with addressing modern slavery is the lack of punishment and enforcement. Criminal see it as a high-reward and a low-risk.

Out of all the countries, 41 percent have no trafficking convictions or had less than 10 convictions between 2010 and 2012. Additionally, there were about 13,000 possible victims in the U.K., but 2013 to 2014 saw just 130 convictions.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: The Guardian, UN
Photo: scrapetv

Thousands living in poverty and inhumane conditions are forced into slavery for their survival. Many of the victims are woman and children who flee countries in search of refuge but, instead, are captured by human traffickers and sold into what is known as modern-day slavery.

Many of those who end up in modern slavery rings are fleeing persecution in their native countries. This is a particularly prominent issue in African countries that neighbor South Africa. South Africa is a desired destination for many Africans who suffer from poverty and corruption in other countries. It is on their travels from other nations to safety that they unfortunately get sucked into the horrors of modern slavery in Africa.

Some children are forced into becoming child soldiers, while some, along with women, are sold into sex trafficking. Others are used to provide cheap or unpaid labor in agricultural work, factories or domestic work. The number of people enslaved are staggering, with approximately 193,000 in Ghana and about 762,900 in the Congo.

It is important that, instead of just ignoring modern slavery like many have been, we know the power we have in ending slavery around the world. Modern day slavery has been uncovered everywhere, even in the United States in the last 15 years. Ignoring the horrific acts just won’t do.

How can we not only show that we do not support this atrocity but also want to work towards its end?

Many enslaved people are those who make the products we use every day. This includes agricultural goods, clothes and other items. Many who use slaves use other terminology in order to hide the atrocities. Many people are enslaved to make clothes and products in factories, working for inhumane hours at a time for either very little or even no pay. There are ways for consumers to research quickly online about where their products come from and how those who make the clothing are treated.

Much of this information is provided by advocacy organizations that have dedicated time and research into finding these victims.

There are many organizations that work to find and free enslaved individuals, while also dismantling groups that enslave them. One international organization is “Free the Slaves.” Free the Slaves is an advocacy group that speaks for those throughout the world who have fallen victim to such atrocities.

For more information about how everyone can make a difference and end modern slavery in Africa, go to

– Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Free the Slaves 1, Free the Slaves 2, African Holocaust
Photo: Rita Bay’s Blog

modern slavery
“Slavery is closer than you think” is the slogan of a new campaign in the United Kingdom to raise awareness of slavery happening in the country. The Home Office has launched a two-month campaign that aims to encourage those experiencing modern-day slavery to come forward and seek help from the government, as well as to urge the public to report anyone suspected of enslaving others.

Modern slavery is a major problem in the U.K. The Human Trafficking Foundation estimates that around 20,000 people are living in slavery throughout the country. The three most common types of slavery are agricultural labor, sexual exploitation in a brothel and domestic servitude in another’s home.

Many cases of slavery have been reported lately. In November, three women were discovered in a house in south London after being held there for 30 years of domestic servitude. In another case, James and Josie Connors were convicted of manipulating and exploiting destitute men for their own financial gain in Bedfordshire.

The slogan encompasses the campaign’s main idea, which is that these examples of modern slavery are going on everywhere, like in average households and families.


Facts on Modern Slavery


A new national helpline, supported by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has also been created to offer information for victims of slavery on how to get help, and to educate the general public on how to accurately report persecutors.

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for these previously unknown situations. Through various forms of advertising, the U.K. government hopes to see more victims seeking help and more people reporting the crimes.

Home Secretary Theresa May said, “The first step to stamping out modern slavery is acknowledging and confronting its existence. This campaign aims to bring this hidden crime out into the open and challenges us all to report it wherever we suspect it.”

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: The Guardian, BBC
Photo: The Guardian

Modern slavery is a major concern for our developing world. Modern slavery exists as a person being deprived of their freedom and rights. This is the right to leave a current job or workplace and the control over one’s own body. There are over 28 million people trapped in modern slavery.

Modern slavery can take the form of forced labor and human trafficking. All of these are forms of slavery and must be stopped. Countries like Russia and China have over 76 percent of the population trapped in some form of modern slavery.

The Walk Free Foundation is a driving force to end modern slavery in this generation. The foundation uses research and the help of businesses to gain a solid ground on the subject of modern slavery. The Walk Free foundation will look at the countries with high numbers of people in slavery and enlist partners to identify strategies to make a lasting impact on slavery.

New information provided by The Guardian states that it is possible that store-bought shrimp that lands on dinner tables across America is employed with forced slave labor. The shrimp is sold by major companies like Wal-Mart and Costco.

 Thailand’s forced slave market is connected to the global shrimp chain. These ships enslave many unsuspecting workers by beating them and at times even ending up in death. Most of the shrimp slave workers are captured to work without pay, and threatened with violence and death. There is no escape when at sea on these ships.

The slaves are forced at sea for years with shifts lasting over 20 hours. At times these men witness horrific and brutal execution-style killings of other slaves. These workers are coerced with hopes of finding work in factories, but are sold to boat captains, most likely to never return.

One victim states to The Guardian that at one time “20 workers were murdered in front of him.”

Aidan McQuade, director of the Anti-Slavery Movement, states that “if you buy shrimp from Thailand, you are purchasing a product of slave labour.”

Over half a million people are trapped in globalized slavery, even sex trafficking at Thailand’s borders. 300,000 of these victims of modern slavery are migrant workers tricked into the slave trade for fishing boats. The demand and pressure for cheaper fish and prawn from America and Europe creates a drive for even cheaper labour: slavery.

The possibility that Thailand’s sea port industry relies so much on forced slave labour that without it the industry would collapse. Wal-Mart and Costco both agree to require audits and proper corrective actions to be in effect towards the ending of the supplier’s slave trade.

Thailand’s fishing industry will be soon forced to change with new audits and anti-slavery actions taking place. The International Labour Organization will be conducting changes to ensure slavery free supply chains, especially those from Asia countries.

There are several companies that have been placing workers in unsafe working conditions and slavery. It is not just Thailand’s fishing industry committing these unethical practices. Companies compete for cheaper prices as the market grows for consumers. The correct process is on companies and consumers alike to make ethical decisions for workers around the world to receive humane and fair treatment.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: Walk Free Foundation, Global Slavery Index, The Guardian
Photo: Eureka Street Australia

Slavery in qatar
When many people think about the term “slavery,” they may reflect on it as a historical institution of the imperial powers of the West. They may even erroneously deem slavery as a decrepit artifact of the past. However, although many history textbooks tend to portray slavery as strictly a practice of the colonial and imperial past, this horrendous institution remains extant throughout many parts of the modern world, Qatar being one of them.

The very same countries that are thought of as exotic vacation hot-spots may also be teeming with covert slave trades. After all, since only a handful of nations are as developed and as advanced as the Western world, some of these less-developed nations rely on slave networks to buttress their nascent economies. For instance, the blistering topic of an emerging controversy unveiled by an investigation by The Guardian, slavery in Qatar has captured media attention because Qatar has purportedly used slave labor in its endeavors to prepare for World Cup 2022.

One may find it ironic that intense mistreatment can exist in a country whose population is composed primarily of migrant workers, however, it is an undeniable reality for many laborers in Qatar. Among Qatar’s two million residents, a paltry 225,000 are natural citizens with the rest of the populace primarily comprised of South Asian migrant workers. These workers hail from less-developed nations such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Qatari officials view the World Cup 2022 as a ceremony in which not only the classic sport of soccer is honored, but also in which cultural relations can be repaired. To prepare for the ceremony, Qatar is investing a reported $100 billion on infrastructure in addition to another $20 billion toward renovating roads and constructing new roads and stadiums. However, behind the glimmering windows and cascading high-rises lurks the masked scandal of slave labor.

According to the International Trade Union Confederation, approximately 4,000 South Asian workers will perish before the festivities of the World Cup 2022 even begin. Furthermore, an investigation by The Guardian unearthed shocking maltreatment of Nepalese laborers who have to endure conditions such as lack of water, food, payment and legal identification. With such horrific conditions, one may wonder how these laborers would ever agree to work for such exploitative employers. However, these unsuspecting migrant workers, eager to earn money and support their starving families, are often tricked into signing false contracts. For instance, workers are given one contract before arriving to Qatar, but upon arrival, they are given a second, demeaning contract. When news broke of the slave-like treatment of migrant workers, there was subsequent backlash.

In order to mitigate subsequent backlash, Qatar officials stated that they would replace the present kafala system with a more democratic system. The kafala system is a sponsorship system in which workers are bound to an all-powerful and oftentimes boundless employer. In a statement issued by the human rights director of the Qatari interior ministry, Colonel Abdullah Saqr al-Mohannadi, the Colonel professes that “We are going to abolish the kafala system and it will move to the legislative institutions… It will be replaced by a contractual relationship between employer and employee.”

Colonel Abdullah Saqr al-Mohannadi also proposes to modify this system by facilitating workers’ ability to obtain exit visas in order to leave their sponsor in the event of mistreatment or simply just a desire to seek other employment. A substantial portion of these reforms are based on advice from DLA Piper, a London law firm that had been mandated with the task of reviewing the implementation of revised labor laws in Qatar. For instance, DLA Piper proposed that a sponsor would be required to show substantial and viable proof supporting his or her objection to permitting a worker to terminate their labor services. Other reform proposals include implementing sanctions against inadequate employers and engendering a more closely-working relationship between the workers’ home countries and their host country.

Although the proposals by DLA may point to an easy resolution, the chances of Qatar following through on these orders is a topic of question and doubt. One major concern from Amnesty International is that although Qatar proposes modifications to the kafala system, all reforms must ultimately be verified and approved by the shura, or advisory council, that legislates many Emirate nations. According to Amnesty International, the shura is expected to strongly oppose the aforementioned proposed changes to the long-standing kafala system due to feared economic consequences.

For instance, Nicholas McGeehan, an activist from Human Rights Watch, voiced his concern by blatantly stating, “The notion that the kafala system can be abolished by no longer referring to a sponsor but an employer-employee relationship is utterly preposterous.” McGeehan’s statement captures the concern that many proponents of reform in Qatar face.

Is the government going to implement adequate change or attempt to shroud the issue with a simple name change?

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources:New York Times, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian


Modern slavery is a different institution from the historical examples of slavery that we learn about in textbooks. In the 21st century, slavery is illegal in the majority of the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 declared, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude, slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Individuals who become modern human trafficking victims are often coerced, tricked or seized from their homes and forcibly exploited. They are trafficked through both underground and legitimate pathways, making their way across borders and oceans. This is not an issue confined to poorer, developing countries. Human trafficking victims enter Western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom in large numbers.

The International Labor Organization estimates that in 2013, around 21 million people were smuggled around the world, with 11.7 million individuals in Asia. “There are 1.1 million new victims a year, which is 3,000 victims a day, 125 per hour.”

Hong Kong is China’s richest and most developed city. Hong Kong has the world’s ninth largest trading economy, with a gross domestic product of $261 billion. However, Hong Kong also has the largest income gap between its citizens of any developed country. Towering shining skyscrapers share the corner with decrepit apartment buildings falling apart from the weight of the families crammed within its walls.


Facts on Modern Slavery


The U.S. State Department report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) for 2013 describes Hong Kong as both a destination and a transit area for men, women and children, from countries like Cambodia, Thailand, China, India, Vietnam, Philippines and Nepal, who are coerced into sex slavery and forced labor. Many migrant workers are also subjected to indentured servitude, with little pay and subjected to violence, harsh conditions, and little opportunity for escape.

Hong Kong officials did not recognize its human trafficking problem as a serious concern until 2013. But once the Hong Kong government acknowledged its problem, it could begin to document, collect statistics and analyze human trafficking within its city and create solutions. The TIP report labels Hong Kong as Tier 2; “the city is not in compliance, but the government is making significant efforts to improve.”

Under Hong Kong law, human trafficking is narrowly defined as individuals crossing the border for prostitution. The Hong Kong Department Justice is making positive strides to amend its Prosecution Code to include human exploitation cases. Most human trafficking cases go un-prosecuted and unpunished. The city’s strict immigration laws have driven human trafficking underground, making it extremely difficult to enforce. The majority of its victims will not escape and receive justice without the support of its government and law enforcement.

– Sarah Yan

Sources: South China Morning Post, UN, The Borgen Project
Photo: Impunity Watch

modern slavery
Most Americans are under the impression that slavery in the United States ended in 1865, but the reality is it just stopped being legal. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually, and victims of human trafficking and modern slavery have been identified in cities, suburbs and rural areas of all 50 states.

A modern-day slave is not paid, is not allowed to leave or abandon their job and is forced into dangerous or degrading positions against their will. Most modern slaves are coerced into leaving their native countries, thinking they are leaving for a better life. A conservative estimation of slaves in the world today is 12 million to 30 million, but many sources claim those numbers are far too low. In 2005, the U.S. State Department estimated that more than 70 percent of trafficked people were female and that half of them were children.

Professor Kevin Bales, co-founder of “Free the Slaves,” has studied the subject of modern slavery extensively and works tirelessly to collect data on a group that is, by definition, hidden. He and his team conducted their research by knocking on doors all over the world and interviewing families who had been affected, or knew someone who had been affected, by human trafficking.

Bales writes that the price of a slave has dropped dramatically since 1809, when the average price of a slave (after adjusting to today’s money) was $40,000; in 2009, the average price was $90.  Human trafficking generates an estimated $32 billion per year, ranking it as the third-largest international crime behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking.

Research conducted by the Polaris Project found the public’s lack of attention to the issue of human trafficking is often what keeps them imprisoned. “Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view and may interact with community members, but the widespread lack of awareness and understanding of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who most often encounter them.”

People who are desperate to improve their situation in life are the ones most vulnerable to falling into slavery. Uneducated women are in high demand as sex slaves and easy to trick when they are uneducated and desperate to find work. When there is nothing to go home to, some slaves lack even the motivation to resist.

Conflict zones are particularly ripe for traffickers. In 2006 during the armed conflict in Lebanon, 300,000 domestic workers from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and the Philippines were left jobless, and trafficking gangs were quick to seduce them with alternative options.

The surest way of eliminating the business of modern slavery is to offer schooling in rural and impoverished areas so people can learn to provide for themselves where they are rather than seeking outside assistance. Teaching poor areas about the potential danger of traffickers is the first step toward ensuring they never have to live through the horror of slavery.

-Lydia Caswell

Sources: UNODC, CNN, Polaris Project
Photo: World Revolution