Forms of Human Trafficking

Trafficking for the purpose of Sexual Exploitation

Victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation can be women or men, girls or boys. Students and job seekers may fall victim to human trafficking for sexual exploitation, as the traffickers would lure them with promises of better work or educational opportunities abroad.

Traffickers usually intimidate and control their victims. Such control may be exercised by physically locking up the victim or by resorting to less obvious means, such as threatening to harm family members in the country of origin or through debt bondage.

It should also be noted that a person may knowingly decide to work in the sex industry, including prostitution, but consequently be forced to continue providing sex-services or prostitution. In such cases, the exploiter would still be regarded as a human trafficker at law and the victim as a victim of human trafficking.

Trafficking for the purpose of Labour Exploitation

Human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation refers to persons recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for slavery, forced or compulsory labour or services, servitude, forced criminality, sexual services or the removal of organs.

These workers suffer threats or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception and abuse of power. They find themselves in a position of vulnerability in which they are expected to give or receive payments or benefits under the control of another person.

A person may be ‘assisted’ by a human trafficker to travel to another country (including by legal means) in order to take up employment there. The victim would be assigned a particular job, usually underpaid, and told to pay back the trafficker for having ‘assisted’ with the travel arrangements and/or any other matter. This often brings about a situation of debt-bondage, particularly as interests at a high rate would often have to be paid.

Such victims would typically be employed by the trafficker or a close associate, and may be controlled by several means, including physical segregation. There may be instances where such victims would have no knowledge of the language of the host country, thereby further increasing their vulnerability through inability to communicate. Such victims may also be living and working in sub-standard conditions, further to working excessively long hours.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 50 million people are in modern slavery. This includes 28 million in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriage. Most cases of forced labour (86%) are found in the private sector. We must identify and eradicate all contemporary forms of slavery and protect vulnerable and marginalised groups to prevent them from becoming victims of forced labour.

Other forms of Trafficking

Other forms of trafficking have been encountered in Europe and elsewhere, including the trafficking of children for the purpose of conducting petty crime and begging activities, as well as organ removal, among others.

Malta signed and ratified the European Convention against Trafficking of Human Organs on 7th November 2018. The convention came into force on 1st March 2018. More information here​.

Human Trafficking is an ever-changing phenomenon and forms of exploitation and the profiles of victims may change over time.