Victims' Stories

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Report

The victim stories included in this Report are meant to be illustrative. They characterize the many—though not all—forms of human trafficking and the wide variety of places in which they occur, although each could take place almost anywhere in the world. Many are based on real experiences and the victims’ names have been changed as a result. In most cases, the photographs that accompany the stories are not images of confirmed trafficking victims. Still, they illustrate the myriad forms of human trafficking and the variety of situations in which trafficking victims are found.

Dominican Republic | United States

When Raul was in high school in the Dominican Republic, he jumped at the opportunity to go to the United States to continue his education. A family friend offered to be his sponsor and hire Raul in his restaurant while Raul attended school. Shortly after Raul arrived in the United States and began attending the local high school, his sponsor pulled him out of classes and forced him to work in his restaurant full-time for less than $1 an hour. The sponsor withheld Raul’s passport, threatened him, and sexually abused him. Raul was forced to live in filthy conditions in the restaurant. After an anonymous call to the national hotline, law enforcement officials raided the restaurant and arrested Raul’s sponsor.

Nigeria | Italy

Faith was approached by a woman who promised her a job at a Nigerian restaurant in Italy. Faith thought this was her chance to begin a new life, especially as she saw some fellow Nigerians return from Europe better off than when they left. When Faith arrived in Italy, however, she was informed she had to pay back more than $50,000 in debt before she could leave. Her traffickers forced her into prostitution, telling Faith they would kill her if she did not comply. Faith felt like she was always in danger and was even stabbed several times. She managed to escape and now works to help other women trapped in sex trafficking in Italy.

United States

When Taylor was 16 years old, she met some older men at the local mall. One of the men started taking Taylor on dates and buying her clothes and meals. Not long after they started dating, he coerced Taylor into sex trafficking, convincing her that if she complied, she would never need to rely on anyone ever again. At 17 years old, Taylor was forced to make at least $1,000 per day. Eventually, Taylor’s traffickers forced her to take on a different role where she was in charge of recruiting more teenagers to be exploited in commercial sex. Most of the money went to her traffickers. To keep her under their control, Taylor’s traffickers threatened her family who lived nearby.

Ghana

Emmanuel and Isaac’s mother struggled to care for them and keep them safe. When she could no longer afford to feed her boys, she sold them to a man who put them to work on a fishing boat. This man was abusive, often hitting Emmanuel and Isaac with the boat paddle. Emmanuel and Isaac would often split one meal a day between them. The brothers were able to escape when their trafficker heard authorities were arresting people who had kids working on the boats. Emmanuel and Isaac now live with a neighbor who sends them to school.

Burma | Bangladesh | India

Kyi and his family fled Burma to escape suppression of the Rohingya by the Burmese military. While in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, an agent offered jobs to him and his family. The jobs were located in Agra, in northern India, and seemed to provide a good opportunity to be safe and rebuild their lives. When they arrived in Agra, they found themselves trapped for a year working as rag pickers and collecting plastic bottles from garbage piles. They worked long hours for no wages. An anonymous tip to law enforcement led to authorities removing Kyi and his family from the situation.

North Korea

When Jae-Un’s father, brothers, and grandmother died when she was 11 years old, North Korean authorities sent her and her sister to an orphanage. The orphanage did not provide the children with extra clothes or shoes, and they were not able to bathe. Jae-Un slept in a small room that she had to share with more than 45 other children; they could barely move while sleeping. During the day, all of the children had assigned jobs doing manual labor, and each day were forced to work very long hours. Several years later, a missionary helped Jae-Un and her sister escape to China.

Bangladesh | Scotland

Ashik was struggling to support his family in Bangladesh when he saw an ad for chefs in London. The recruiter said he needed to pay up front for visas, so Ashik borrowed more than $20,000 from moneylenders. When he arrived in London, he was put on a bus to Scotland where he was forced to work in a remote hotel. The recruiter confiscated Ashik’s passport and threatened to report him as an illegal worker if he complained. Ashik was the only employee responsible for dozens of hotel rooms and tour groups. He slept either on the floor of empty rooms or in an old caravan behind the hotel. Ashik was eventually able to leave but he was never paid for his work. He is still afraid to return home because of the money he owes recruiters.

Philippines | Brazil

Maria had left the Philippines several times to take domestic service jobs in other countries, and was excited to explore a new country. Working with a recruiter in Brazil, she accepted a job as a domestic worker in a Brazilian household. After she began her new job, Maria realized that the job was not as promised and she felt exploited by her employers. She consistently had to work 15-hour days, was forced to stay in the house, and had little access to food. Maria found a way to escape the home, but is still in debt to the recruitment agency that placed her in Brazil.

South Africa

Joan, a young woman with mental disabilities, was lured from school by two elderly women from her hometown who offered her a job. She was then held against her will in their house, where they sedated and deprived her of food. The women forced Joan to have sex with many individuals who paid with money, gifts,and food. Joan was eventually found and helped by the police. The two elderly women were arrested and charged with sex trafficking.