As reported over the past five years, Turkey is a destination and transit country, and to a lesser extent source country, for women, men, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking victims in Turkey are primarily from Central and South Asia, Eastern Europe, Syria, Indonesia, and Morocco. Of the 183 victims identified in 2016, Syrians made up the largest number of victims (36) from a single country, followed by Kyrgyz (33), Georgians (23), and Uzbeks (16); the other 73 victims were from a range of countries including Indonesia, Moldova, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan. Some Georgian men and women are subjected to forced labor. Foreign victims are commonly promised jobs in entertainment, modeling, or domestic work, but upon arrival, traffickers force them into forced labor or prostitution in hotels, discos, and homes. Some Turkish men are subjected to trafficking at least in Azerbaijan and Israel. The government and NGOs reported traffickers use psychological coercion, threats, and debt bondage to compel victims into sex trafficking. Traffickers increasingly use social media to recruit victims and employ foreign females as recruiting and management assistants. Unknown numbers of ethnic Roma and refugee children may be vulnerable to trafficking while working on the street collecting garbage, selling flower and other items, or begging.
Turkey continues to host a large refugee population that is increasingly vulnerable to trafficking: approximately three million displaced Syrians, 120,000 Afghans, and 125,000 Iraqis resided in Turkey during the reporting period. Unknown numbers of Syrian refugee and other children engaged in street begging and also reportedly worked in restaurants, textile factories, markets, mechanic or blacksmith shops, and agriculture, at times acting as the breadwinners for their families; some are vulnerable to forced labor. Experts reported children worked long hours, with low wages, in some cases in substandard working conditions. Syrian refugee women and girls are vulnerable to sex trafficking by prostitution rings. Some Syrian and other girls have reportedly been sold into marriages in which they are vulnerable to domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Reports indicate some youth in Turkey, sometimes under coercion, joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.