Modern Slavery Definitions

Child Exploitation

Child exploitation is the use of a young person for an individual’s own personal gain (typically for profit but may be for personal gratification). This can include forced labor, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation (including county lines), and child soldiers.

Criminal Exploitation

Criminal exploitation involves forcing, coercing, or deceiving an individual into committing crimes for another person’s benefit (typically financial gains and to allow the criminal to avoid law enforcement detection). The most common forms include cannabis cultivation, shoplifting and pickpocketing, forms of sexual exploitation (e.g., forced prostitution where prostitution is illegal), and county lines where individuals (typically young people) are recruited and used to transfer and deliver drugs.

Forced Labor

Forced labor is another form of human trafficking in which individuals are forced to work either in jobs they did not consent to, within horrific working conditions, and/or where wages are withheld. This can happen within any industry, with the most common being agriculture (fishing, cocoa, etc.) domestic work, construction, factories, nightclubs and bars, and hospitality (hotels, restaurants, casinos, etc.), however this can happen within any industry.

Forced Marriage

While often viewed simply as a cultural practice, forced marriage is considered to be a form of modern slavery as it removes the consent of one or both individuals, and often includes abuse and coercion.

"I ask everyone to give a hand to help eradicate human trafficking. We can all do something, whether it is a small or large donation, or to get involved and add our voice. There are so many ways to help through providing education, health, emotional support, jobs, training, legal support."
Sunita Danuwar
Founder of The Sunita Foundation

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined by three elements, according to the “Palermo Protocol,” 2000*. They are:

• The act: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbor, or receipt of persons

• The means: force, fraud, coercion, and/or deception

• The purpose: exploitation

While often misunderstood, human trafficking does not require the transportation of an individual across borders, or any transportation at all. Human traffickers use and exploit an individual for their own financial or personal benefit, taking away the individual’s human rights and viewing them simply as a commodity rather than a human being.

Methods of Control

Traffickers use various methods to keep victims within their control. Methods include:

• Keeping an individual’s passport/identification documents, especially when they have traveled to another country and may be there illegally.

• Threats: threats of violence, of hurting the victim’s family, or not allowing them to leave unless they comply, etc.

• Imprisonment: not allowing an individual to live freely.

• Isolation: traffickers may over time convince an individual to separate themselves from family and friends in order to instil full reliance on the trafficker.

• Violence: physical and sexual, in order to instil fear.

• Psychological coercion: verbal abuse that makes the individual think this is all their fault, or making the victim feel they are doing this because they love the trafficker, etc.

• Debt bondage: when an individual has incurred a ‘debt’ they owe the trafficker, but regardless of how much money they make or how long they work for, they can never pay off the debt.


Modern Slavery

“Modern slavery” is a complex umbrella term that includes human trafficking, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labor, child exploitation, criminal exploitation, forced marriage, child marriage, and organ harvesting. At its most basic level, modern slavery is the exploitation and exercised ownership of a person for personal or commercial gain. While the term “modern slavery” is often conflated with “human trafficking” and these other issues, it is important to understand that modern slavery is not a single issue. There is no single solution, and there is no single ‘type’ of victim or perpetrator. The complexity of the term “modern slavery” comprises the numerous issues, various causes, the hidden nature of these issues, the physical, psychological, and emotional impact on victim/survivors, and prevention, disruption, and prosecution efforts.

Organ Harvesting

While rarely discussed, organ harvesting is considered a form of human trafficking when it occurs where force, fraud, coercion and/or deception is prevalent. This typically occurs by traffickers forcing a vulnerable individual to provide certain organs in order to sell to wealthier individuals in need of these organs. This form of human trafficking can be particularly detrimental to the victims’ physical health, especially if the operations to remove the organ(s) are not performed properly.

Sexual Exploitation

One form of human trafficking includes trafficking for sexual exploitation which uses individuals for their bodies against their will in order for traffickers to earn a profit or for personal gratification. This can include forcing an individual into prostitution (on the streets, in brothels, in someone’s home, online), stripping, dancing/lap dancing, pornography (photos and videos), and sex tourism. While women and girls make up the majority of trafficking for sexual exploitation victims, men and boys can also be forced into these profit-making methods for traffickers.

*Palermo Protocol, 2000,_Suppress_and_Punish_Trafficking_in_Persons,_Especially_Women_and_Children