Trading in humans is the third most profitable trade in the world, after the drugs trade and the arms trade.
People can even be sold again and again, as long as someone wants to buy them. Children and adults are taken across borders or to other parts of their countries, to be exploited as forced labourers. This is called modern- day slavery. Many are exploited as maids or sex slaves. Children are kidnapped, sold, tricked or forced to do things against their will. Most of those affected come from very poor families. Traffickers control their victims through violence, blackmail and threatening to harm their victims’ parents or siblings.
One 14-year-old girl when she was smuggled out of the Philippines with a fake passport. She was flown thousands of miles to work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, as a maid to a rich family in the Middle East.
“I was treated worse than an animal, and I was sold to a new employer against my will,” she says.
Hardly any other country in the world has as many citizens working abroad as the Philippines. The country has a long tradition of people travelling abroad to find work, a tradition developed and encouraged by the former dictator Marcos.
Almost half of the country’s 10-12 year-olds say that they have considered working abroad. Today, the country is one of the world’s most important sources of migrant workers. Some travel legally, but hundreds of thousands are smuggled out of the country and sold in neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Hong Kong, as well as the Middle East, Africa, the USA and Europe.
Text: Carmilla Floyd
Photos: Kim Naylor