The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery”. A modern-day form of slavery, labor trafficking is a fundamental violation of human rights.
FORMS OF LABOR TRAFFICKING-TYPE
There are several forms of exploitative practices linked to labor trafficking, including bonded labor, forced labor and child labor.
Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan in which its terms and conditions have not been defined. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed”.
Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Forms of forced labor include domestic servitude, agricultural labor, fisheries work, sweatshop work, prostitution, janitorial work, food service industry work and begging.
Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the health and/or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million working children ages between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities around the world. Girls are particularly in demand for domestic work.
CSA is actively assisting with the cause of labor trafficking through de-isolating members of migrant communities, introducing them to community-based activities and services, and providing supportive resources to break the negative loops of oppression. CSA is also pursing to improve emotional and mental health through positive interactions and by documenting and reporting exploitation.
Assistance for victims of labor trafficking
When victims of trafficking are identified, the U.S. government can help them stabilize their immigration status, and obtain support and assistance in rebuilding their lives in the United States through various programs. By certifying victims of trafficking, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enables trafficking victims who are non-U.S. citizens to receive federally funded benefits and services to the same extent as a refugee. Victims of trafficking who are U.S. citizens do not need to be certified to receive benefits. As U.S. citizens, they may already be eligible for many benefits.
Through HHS, victims can access benefits and services including food, health care and employment assistance. Certified victims of trafficking can obtain access to services that provide English language instruction and skills training for job placement. CSA’s most important role is to connect victims with non-profit organizations prepared to assist them and address their needs. There organizations can provide counseling, case management and benefit coordination.