People vulnerable to THB for labour exploitation

Trafficking in human beings (THB) for labour exploitation is a global phenomenon: it can affect every region, country and economic sector. But experts agree that the following circumstances may make people more vulnerable to this phenomenon than others.

Although these things are thought to be risk factors, it is not known if and to what extent they can predict who will become a victim and who will not.

Workers may be vulnerable to THB for labour exploitation when they:

  • are not well educated
  • have learning difficulties
  • do not speak the language of the country of destination
  • live in poverty or in a region with a high rate of unemployment and lack of opportunities, have difficult family circumstances or a family that depends on their financial support
  • lack a social network
  • have debts
  • are homeless
  • are made to feel like they are not valued
  • are emotionally unstable or physically disabled
  • are not aware of their (labour) rights and/or have been given false information
  • are not aware of the cost of living in the destination country
  • want to satisfy cultural expectations, or have family ties to the traffickers
  • are uncertain about their future because they are awaiting a decision on an asylum application; asylum seekers that are not allowed to work, may be tempted to accept work under unfavourable conditions
  • do not trust the authorities and are in the country illegally; the traffickers may threaten them with informing the authorities
  • depend on their employer for their residence status
  • work in isolation
  • are addicted or made addicted by the traffickers.

According to Europol, most victims of THB for labour exploitation detected in investigations of EU member states in 2014 were male EU nationals from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Estonia. This statistic only refers to information shared with Europol. Therefore, it may not reflect the complete picture of investigations in member states.