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Protect yourself from forced labour, sexual slavery and illegal exploitation when seeking employment in Germany and Europe, help to victims of forced labour

§ Modern slavery and forced labour

Along with official employment, there are well-planned fraud schemes all over the world, as well as organizations that sell people into slavery and exploitation, forcing them to work against their will or on conditions with which the employee does not agree. According to the International Labor Organization, 21 million people are subjected to forced labour worldwide, which brings organizers about 150 billion euros annually.

According to the information, published on the UN official website, for 17 years beginning from 2000, over 13 thousand Ukrainians, who had become victims of human trafficking, availed the assistance of the International Organization for Migration in order to get away from their slavery. Those were people of very different age and with very different education. In most cases, they had been enslaved in Russia and Poland.

Nobody can identify precisely the dimensions of the modern slavery problem, but those are really shocking.

For 17 years beginning from 2000, over 13 thousand Ukrainians, who had become victims of human trafficking, availed the assistance of the International Organization for Migration in order to get away from their slavery (UN News).

Forms of modern slavery

By definition in the UN Slavery Convention, “slavery is the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised", or, in other words, slavery starts when a person becomes a property of another person or is treated as a property – usually, under the threat of violence. In the contemporary world, the following forms of slavery, connected with forced labour and exploitation:

Forced labour a form of slavery, in which a person is forced to work against his / her will; such coercion may be expressed in the form of violence, threats, or intimidation;
Human trafficking people would be sold for labour or sexual exploitation as well as for human organ trading; quite often people become victims of human trafficking as a result of illegal migration;
Sexual slavery forced prostitution;
Debt settlement a person is coerced into slave labour as a matter of pledge for thereto given credit or as a matter of payment for the unreturned loan (whether alleged or real); as such forced labour is rewarded very miserably, it may last as long as the victim is alive

Forced labour and exploitation in Germany

By assessment of the Global Slavery Index website of the Walk Free Foundation, which is fighting for elimination of modern slavery, in Germany the share of residents being enslaved in whatever the form amounts to 2 / 1000. This index is much lower than in other countries, nevertheless even this country is not free from illegal exploitation. According to the report by the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany for 2016, in that year they investigated 363 cases related to sexual exploitation and 12 cases in connection with labour exploitation. In those cases, women accounted for 95% of sexual exploitation victims, and 80% of them were female migrants from other countries. Around 10% of human trafficking victims were coerced into sexual exploitation through model agencies and job offer ads in newspapers.

Therefore, while thinking on the opportunities for working abroad – in particular, in Germany, it is necessary to be cautious so that not to become a victim of human trafficking and forced labour.

In 2016, the German police investigated 363 cases related to sexual exploitation and 12 cases on labour exploitation; migrants from other countries accounted for 80% of the victims (from the German Criminal Police Office report)

§ Working abroad can be a path to slavery and illegal labour exploitation

By information from an international human rights organization of IJM Deutschland e.V., most of the people being enslaved or forced into slave labour happened to find themselves in such situation because they had been deceived or sidetracked. Quite often everything started from the hope to find an attractive job or receive good education. Seeking to improve their living situation, people do not pay attention to the possible risks and thus find themselves in a deadlock: a “good job” turns out as working 18 hours per day in terrible conditions and almost without payment or with no payment at all, and “good education” happens to be coercion into prostitution with any attempts to flee therefrom being entirely supressed.

Stories about the path to sexual slavery and labour exploitation

(1) Published in Watchtower magazine, the article "Fetters of Slavery: the Past and Today" tells a story of the girl, who came to Europe in the hope to work as a hair stylist. However, instead of that, she for 10 days was being beaten and hearing threats to spifflicate her relatives. Thus she was coerced into prostitution. The madam of the brothel, where she found herself, said that the girl owed her 40,000 euros. In order to pay off this mythical debt, the girl needed to earn 200–300 euros per night. She often thought of fleeing, but was concerned that her slaveholders would inflict harm to her family. That was how she was trapped. This is just one of typical stories on how the hope to work abroad can lead a person into slavery or to forced slave labour.

(2) According to the afore-mentioned report of the criminal police, in one case, presented as an example of criminals’ actions, a group from abroad recruited young women from Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina by having promised them solid work in Germany. In fact, however, they were coerced into sexual exploitation in different hotels of Germany.

(3) In another case, a recruitment agency in Ukraine, having promised good jobs for their compatriots, shipped the latter via Poland to Germany. Over there, counter to the promises, they were accommodated in terrible conditions and forced to work for a miserable wage or no wages at all. Some of those workers were supplied with Romanian documents.

§ Precautionary measures in seeking a job abroad: how to secure yourself

In order not to become a victim of slave-traders and forced labour, it is necessary to be cautious. The following recommendations and pieces of advice will help you to evade trapping in a deadlock situation, although the presented list is not full and all-embracing:

In Europe, the share of females among the criminals convicted for human trafficking is higher than the share of females among those convicted for all kinds of crimes (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2009)

According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons as of 2009, the victims for human trafficking are usually recruited by criminal groups, which are located in their country, and then sell the victims abroad. Also, in the countries with high-level incomes where migrant workers go, it is the foreigners who most often happen to be criminals. While both males and females become victims of human trafficking, women and girls account for almost 80% of the affected.

§ Specific features of a recruiter for the slave trade and forced bonded labor in a job offer abroad

While looking for a job in another country, pay attention to the job offer as such and to the intermediary’s behavior, plus to the contents and manner of his / her talk, as this can help to reveal the signs of slave-trading units or offers of forced labour. Be attentive to the following features:

§ Assistance to victims of slavery and forced labour, where to turn for help

If you have become a victim of human trafficking or forced labour, you may request help at any police department or make a hotline call in Germany - 110. Besides, you may write your statement to the police through the Internet, and in this case you should first select the respective land/ federated state of Germany.

List of counseling centers and help centers:

Centers providing consulting and help for migrants and victims of human trafficking are as well available in other countries, and some contact details are as follows:

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