Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings



Trafficking in human beings is the slavery of our times. It is a serious crime and a gross violation of human rights. Traffickers deceive and exploit people for financial profit by forcing them into prostitution or sexual exploitation; forcing them to work domestically with no or little pay often in inhuman condition; forcing them to beg, or forcing them to removing and selling their organs.  All full description and definition of trafficking in human beings is found under Trafficking explained.

The causes of, and contributing factors to, trafficking in human beings are manifold and complex and often linked to other forms of exploitation.


Bonded labour/debt bondage – forced labour to pay off loans that people have been tricked into taking (to pay for medicine or school fees, for instance). The work usually involves long hours, 7 days a week (in return for just basic food and shelter). Can end up being a permanent state of bondage, with the loan never being "paid off".

Child labour – exploitation of minors in work that may be physically or mentally damaging or prevent the child getting a decent education. UNICEF definition of child labour.

Early and forced marriage – marriage forced on women and girls who then face a life of servitude. Early/forced marriage is often accompanied by physical violence. Victims may be vulnerable to early pregnancies.

Forced labour – work performed under threat of violence or other penalties, for little or no pay and involving restrictions on basic rights such as freedom of movement. Very common fate for victims of people trafficking, e.g. forced labour as domestic servants, farm labourers, etc.

Migration of workers – movement of consenting people to other parts of the same country or other countries in search of work or a livelihood. The need or desire to migrate can encourage people trafficking activities and create a market for people smuggling.

National Referral Mechanism (NRM) - a co-operative framework through which state actors fulfil their obligations to protect and promote the human rights of trafficked persons, co-ordinating their efforts in a strategic partnership with civil society. The basic aims of an NRM are to ensure that the human rights of trafficked persons are respected and provide an effective way to refer vicitms of trafficking to services. In addition, NRMs can work to help to improve national policy and procedures on a broad range of victim-related issues such as residence and return regulations, victim compensation, and witness protection. (...) (T.Kroger, J. Malkoc, B.H. Uhl, National Referral Mechanisms. Joining Efforts to Protect the RIghts of Trafficked Persons. A practical Handbook, Osce-Odihir, Warsaw, 2004, p. 15.)

People smuggling – the transportation – for financial or other material benefit – of people to countries for which they lack the necessary visas or entry permits. Normally takes place at the initiative of the smuggled person or with their consent.

Sexual exploitation – the use of another person in non-consensual sex for profit. Children are especially vulnerable – attitudes to privacy can make communities reluctant to intervene in cases of child sex exploitation, and children are targeted particularly by internet pornography and sex tourism.

Section Glossary