What is Labor Trafficking?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2020
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Labor trafficking is a term often used to describe the illegal smuggling of people from one country to another for the purposes of performing menial labor. In most cases, these people are intended to be used as workers in factories and shops operating illegally. Sometimes these laborers are used in agriculture and meat packaging. Labor trafficking is sometimes referred to as human trafficking, or human smuggling, and is illegal in most countries.

The textile industry has long been associated with labor trafficking. Small factories that manufacture clothing and shoes often operate outside the boundaries of labor laws. They pay wages below what is required by law, and frequently do not provide safe working environments. In addition, they often require that their workers work longer hours than are legally allowed, and sometimes work children and underage adolescents. Factories such as these are usually called sweatshops.

Sometimes, people who are smuggled into a country in order to work in sweatshops are not paid any type of wages at all. Instead, they are more like indentured servants, who must work until they have paid off what the smugglers charged to bring them into the country. Some of these people come from countries that are so poverty stricken that this type of arrangement is attractive. Women and children make up a large portion of these workers.


In some instances, labor trafficking involves taking people against their will, and though this type of criminal smuggling is considered rare, research seems to indicate it is becoming more common. Some human trafficking rings operate by luring young women into believing they are being hired for lucrative careers in modeling or acting, when in reality, they will be put into prostitution rings that move around the world. This type of operation is sometimes referred to as a “prostitution pipeline.” To make the women easier to manage, their handlers often inject them with habit-forming drugs such as heroin or opium. Once addicted, they can be controlled using their need for drugs.

Law enforcement agencies around the world usually work together to help stop labor trafficking. This is usually handled by customs enforcement and border patrol agencies. Penalties for human trafficking are usually severe, but may vary widely depending on the country of origination and destination. In addition, in some cases the age of the people being smuggled can sometimes have an impact on penalties.


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Post 1

Human Trafficking consists of both labor trafficking and sex trafficking. Therefore, labor trafficking cannot just bu referred to as human trafficking.

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