Human trafficking is the illegal movement and use of persons. Modern slavery is a term that covers all forms of trafficking, forced labour and child labour, including child soldiers. It is a serious crime & violation to human rights. Sadly 45.8 million* people are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery with 2 million being children.** It is thought that 55% of trafficking victims are women and children. This issue is prevalent all across the globe in over 167 countries. In India alone, there are an estimated 18 million people* in slavery right now.


The cause

"Those who deny freedom to others, do not deserve it for themselves." - Abraham Lincoln

The demand for cheap or free labour, and illegal trafficking is largely driven by consumer demand for cheap projects and services. For example, children in India are kidnapped and forced to beg on the streets to make easy money for their kidnappers. Many young girls are trafficked into sex work, abused and enslaved, to fulfil the demands of local or tourist workers who are willing to pay a high price for these services to those who 'own' the women. 

People who are trafficked or enslaved are usually from a vulnerable situation to start with. They may be poor, isolated, neglected, uneducated, from conflict areas or areas prone to natural disasters, or they may have been previously abused. Desperate for hope, they are often coerced by false promises of opportunity, love or money. Children are often kidnapped or sold into trafficking by people they know.

The Global Slavery Index describes vulnerability as: "a complex interaction of factors related to the presence or absence of protection and respect for rights, physical safety and security, access to the necessities of life such as food, water and health care, and patterns of migration, displacement and conflict."

The impact

Victims of trafficking and slavery experience great abuse both physically, emotionally and mentally. Once coerced & enslaved, oppression begins with stressful, unhygienic conditions & physical and mental abuse. They or their families may receive very real threats and they feel like they have no alternative. Loss of identification is a huge problem, making escapes, rescues and rehabilitation very complicated. Often victims become despondent and in an effort to survive they conform to their captors demands. Victims may experience extreme trauma, and suffer from fear, shame and hopelessness in the wake of their experiences.

The solution

The solution to this enormous global issue is multi-layered, and The Freedom Project is involved in all these areas. 


To prevent trafficking and slavery, people must be aware of the issues and also be equipped to enjoy safe and sustainable livelihoods. Education is one of the best approaches in achieving this. It is essential to target individuals and communities who are particularly vulnerable and seek to help them identify and understand the risks. Part of the solution is also to provide a holistic education that will empower and equip people to support themselves with meaningful work. Vocational training and income generation opportunities are a great way to address this. Additionally, to reduce the demand, the whole community must work together to fight these systemic injustices. Authorities, community leaders, families, business owners and consumers must all play their part in preventing modern slavery. 


For those living in circumstances of slavery, escape or rescue is an obvious solution - but it proves to be highly risky and complicated. Depending on how long the victim has been in the situation, they may struggle to be motivated or hopeful of being freed. Rescue involves a team of people working together to negotiate a way out. The process is arduous and lengthy and not always successful. However, rescues are happening continuously all around the world, as victims are exposed and given an opportunity to change their circumstances. It is essential that these victims are given all the support they need to not relapse back into abusive or harmful circumstances. 


Once someone has been rescued, it is very important that they are rehabilitated back into their lives, communities and society. If they are not given the proper support, care and opportunities to build a brighter future, there is a risk that they will get caught up in abusive situations in the future. Restoration involves a broad scope of initiatives ranging from emergency relief, food, shelter, counselling, education and training. The fundamental purpose of this process is to help them recover from their experiences and set them up to live a normal life with a positive future. It is a long process, but it is where we can see so much joy, hope, transformed lives and an impact on the wider community in the fight against injustice. 

identifying & Reporting SLAVERY & trafficking

Human trafficking and slavery comes in all shapes and sizes. We often think of it as an issue that only affects developing countries, however that is not the case. There are trafficking victims in 175 countries globally, including Australia. Sometimes there are warning signs, but sometimes it is very well hidden. However are ways you can be aware of the main issues and trends. To learn about signs of trafficking and/or forced marriage, visit the AFP website. If you have seen something suspicious or have noticed signs of something not being quite right, you can contact the Australia Federal Police (AFP) by calling 131 AFP (131 237), emailing or filling out their online form. For more tips click here.

For information on exploitation in the workplace in Australia, download this factsheet from Anti-Slavery Australia.

For more information on forced marriage in Australia, click here.

help for trafficking victims

If you or someone you know needs assistance in relation to human trafficking, including sexual and/or labour exploitation, forced marriage or slavery you can contact the Australia Federal Police (AFP) by calling 131 AFP (131 237), emailing or filling out their online form. In the case of an emergency, call 000.

If you are looking for local services in Australia to help you can contact the following organisations: 

Further reading

If you would like to learn more about human trafficking and modern slavery, there are some great tools available online. 


*Global Slavery Index 2016