Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person, through any coercive means (such as threat, use of force, deception or abuse) for the purpose of exploitation (e.g. forced labour, organ removal, sexual exploitation, etc.). For instance, someone may be trafficked into forced labour in the sex industry, garment industry, agricultural industry, domestic work or forced to work in some other sector.
Where the victim is a child under 18 years of age, there is no requirement of coercive means. It is sufficient if the child is both recruited and exploited through one of the recognised forms of exploitation.
1 United Nations, Article 3(a), Protocol To Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000, accessed 13/12/16: Link
Slavery and slavery like practices
Slavery is defined in the Slavery Convention as the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised. In a later treaty, States agreed that there are also certain ‘slavery-like practices’: debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, sale or exploitation of children (including in armed conflict) and descent-based slavery.
Debt bondage is a status or condition, where one person has pledged their labour or service (or that of someone under their control), in circumstances where the fair value of that labour or service is not reasonably applied to reducing the debt or length of debt, or the length and nature of the service is not limited or defined.
Descent-based slavery describes the situation where people are born into slavery because their families were captured into slavery and have since ‘belonged’ to the slave owning families.
Any institution or practice where a woman, without the right to refuse, is promised or given in marriage on payment of money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group. It also includes practices where the husband of a woman, his family, or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise and practices where a woman on the death of her husband is liable to be inherited by another person.
 United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights, Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, accessed 8/6/2017: Link
Forced labour is work or service that is taken from a person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered themselves voluntarily.
According to the ILO, forced labour “refers to situations in which persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by more subtle means such as manipulated debt, retention of identity papers or threats of denunciation to immigration authorities”.
For instance, a man, woman or child can be in forced labour in the sex industry, garment industry , agricultural industry, domestic work or forced to work in some other sector.
 International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), accessed 13/12/16: Link
 International Labour Organization, What is forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking, accessed 01/03/17: Link
Worst forms of child labour
Worst forms of child labour comprises all forms of slavery or slavery-like practices (such as the sale and trafficking of children or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict); the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs; or work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.