Trafficking involves transporting people away from the communities in which they live and forcing them to work against their will using violence, deception or coercion. People are trafficked both between countries and within the borders of a country.
Trafficking affects countries and families on every continent. Because of its hidden nature, it is difficult to get accurate statistics on the numbers affected, but the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that at any one time there are some 2.5 million people who have been trafficked and are being subjected to sexual or labour exploitation.
Most coverage of the trafficking issue has focused on trafficking for sexual exploitation, but around a third of all trafficked people are used exclusively for labour exploitation (for example domestic work, agricultural work, catering or packing and processing).
Trafficking for sexual exploitation almost exclusively affects women and girls (98 per cent), but trafficking for labour exploitation also affects women more than men (56 per cent being women and girls).
The vast majority of people who are trafficked are migrant workers. They are seeking to escape poverty and discrimination, improve their lives and send money back to their families. They hear about well-paying jobs abroad through family, friends or "recruitment agencies". But when they arrive in the country of destination they find that the work they were promised does not exist and they are forced instead to work in jobs or conditions to which they did not agree.
Traffickers can coerce people to work through a variety of mechanisms. Trafficked migrants usually have their passports taken away on arrival. Without their documents they cannot prove they have a right to be in the country and therefore cannot go to the authorities for assistance.
Seven Minute Briefing - Trafficking
Help for victims
Modern Slavery - RCN Guide for Nurses and Midwives
Transparency in supply chains - a practical guide
Information sheets provided by Unchosen
Modern Slavery - Frequently Asked Questions