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Chptr 7 General Indicators and Signs of Human Trafficking

General Indicators and Signs of Human Trafficking

When we think about human trafficking in general and when we want to find the solutions and ways to decrease it and stop it at the end, then for sure we have to think about the indicators and signs of the potential person who has been trafficked.

It is the first step in identifying and recognizing victims and it can save someone’s life.

Since this issue is a big topic itself and since it has so many variants and types, the same indicators and signs are different, and the presence or absence of any of these indicators are not necessarily proof of human trafficking.

During my research I have realized that we can divide indicators and signs of human trafficking into 6 groups following different types of trafficking.

7.1. The first group are GENERAL INDICATORS:

People who have been trafficked may:

·   Believe that they must work against their will

·   Be unable to leave their work environment

·   Show signs that their movements are being controlled

·   Feel that they cannot leave

·   Show fear or anxiety

·   Be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or against their family members and loved ones

·   Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of an assault

·   Suffer injuries or impairments typical of certain jobs or control measures

·   Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of the application of control measures

·   Be distrustful of the authorities

·   Be threatened with being handed over to the authorities

·   Be afraid of revealing their immigration status

·   Not be in possession of their passports or other travel or identity documents, as those documents are being held by someone else

·   Have false identity or travel documents

·   Be found in or connected to a type of location likely to be used for exploiting people

·   Be unfamiliar with the local language

·   Not know their home or work address

·   Allow others to speak for them when addressed directly

·   Act as if they were instructed by someone else

·   Be forced to work under certain conditions

·   Be disciplined through punishment

·   Be unable to negotiate working conditions

·   Receive little or no payment

·   Have no access to their earnings

·   Work excessively long hours over long periods

·   Not have any days off

·   Live in poor or substandard accommodations

·   Have no access to medical care

·   Have limited or no social interaction

·   Have limited contact with their families or with people outside of their immediate environment

·   Be unable to communicate freely with others

·   Be under the perception that they are bonded by debt

·   Be in a situation of dependence

·   Come from a place known to be a source of human trafficking

·   Have had the fees for their transport to the country of destination paid for by facilitators, whom they must payback by working or

7.2. The second group are CHILDREN:

Children who have been trafficked may:

·   Have no access to their parents or guardians

·   Look intimidated and behave in a way that does not correspond with behaviour typical of children their age

·   Have no friends of their own age outside of work

·   Have no access to education

·   Have no time for playing

·   Live apart from other children and live in substandard accommodations

·   Eat apart from other members of the “family”

·   Be given only leftovers to eat

·   Be engaged in work that is not suitable for children

·   Travel unaccompanied by adults

·   Travel in groups with persons who are not relatives

The following might also indicate that children have been trafficked:

  • The presence of child-sized clothing typically worn for doing manual or sex work

  • The presence of toys, beds and children’s clothing in inappropriate places such as brothels and factories

  • The claim made by an adult that he or she has “found” an unaccompanied child

  • The finding of unaccompanied children carrying telephone numbers for calling taxis

  • The discovery of cases involving illegal adoption

7.3. The third group is SEXUAL EXPLOITATION:

People who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation may:

·   Be of any age, although the age may vary according to the location and the market

·   Move from one brothel to the next or work in various locations

·   Be escorted whenever they go to and return from work and other outside activities

·   Have tattoos or other marks indicating “ownership” by their exploiters

·   Work long hours or have few if any days off

·   Sleep where they work

·   Live or travel in a group, sometimes with other women who do not speak the same language

·   Have very few items of clothing

·   Have clothes that are mostly the kind typically worn for doing sex work

·   Only know how to say sex-related words in the local language or in the language of the client group

·   Have no cash of their own

·   Be unable to show an identity document

The following might also indicate that children have been sex trafficked:

  • There is evidence that suspected victims have had unprotected and/or violent sex.

  • There is evidence that suspected victims cannot refuse unprotected and/or violent sex

  • There is evidence that a person has been bought and sold

  • There is evidence that groups of women are under the control of others

  • Advertisements are placed for brothels or similar places offering the services of women of a particular ethnicity or nationality

  • It is reported that sex workers provide services to a clientele of a particular ethnicity or nationality

  • It is reported by clients that sex workers do not smile

7.4. The fourth group is DOMESTIC SERVITUDE:

People who have been trafficked for the purpose of domestic servitude may:

·   Live with a family

·   Not eat with the rest of the family

·   Have no private space

·   Sleep in a shared or inappropriate space

·   Be reported missing by their employer even though they are still living in their employer’s house

·   Never or rarely leave the house for social reasons

·   Never leave the house without their employer

·   Be given only leftovers to eat

·   Be subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence

7.5. The fifth group is LABOUR EXPLOITATION:

People who have been trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation are typically made to work in sectors such as the following: agriculture, construction, entertainment, service industry and manufacturing (in sweatshops). People who have been trafficked for labour exploitation may:

·   Live in groups in the same place where they work and leave those premises infrequently, if at all

·   Live in degraded, unsuitable places, such as in agricultural or industrial buildings

·   Not be dressed adequately for the work they do: for example, they may lack protective equipment or warm clothing

·   Be given only leftovers to eat

·   Have no access to their earnings

·   Have no labour contract

·   Work excessively long hours

·   Depend on their employer for a number of services, including work, transportation and accommodation

·   Have no choice of accommodation

·   Never leave the work premises without their employer

·   Be unable to move freely

·   Be subject to security measures designed to keep them on the work premises

·   Be disciplined through fines

·   Be subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence

·   Lack basic training and professional licenses

7.6. The sixth group are BEGGING AND PETTY CRIME:

People who have been trafficked for the purpose of begging or committing petty crimes may:

·   Be children, elderly persons or disabled migrants who tend to beg in public places and on public transport

·   Be children carrying and/or selling illicit drugs

·   Have physical impairments that appear to be the result of mutilation

·   Be children of the same nationality or ethnicity who move in large groups with only a few adults

·   Be unaccompanied minors who have been “found” by an adult of the same nationality or ethnicity

·   Move in groups while travelling on public transport: for example, they may walk up and down the length of trains

·   Participate in the activities of organized criminal gangs

·   Be apart of large groups of children who have the same adult guardian

·   Be punished if they do not collect or steal enough

·   Live with members of their gang

·   Travel with members of their gang to the country of destination

·   Live, as gang members, with adults who are not their parents

·   Move daily in large groups and over considerable distances

The following might also indicate that people have been trafficked for begging or for committing petty crimes:

  • New forms of gang-related crime appear

  • There is evidence that the group of suspected victims have moved, over a period of time, through a number of countries

  • There is evidence that suspected victims have been involved in begging or in committing petty crimes in another country

At the end of this research it is important to emphasize that not all the indicators listed above are present in all situations involving trafficking in humans. Although the presence or absence of any of the indicators neither proves nor disproves that human trafficking is taking place, their presence should lead to investigation.

Victims of trafficking in humans can be found in a variety of situations. But it is even more to emphasize and to be aware of the role YOU can play in identifying such victims.


Chapter 1: What is Human Trafficking?

1.1.        Definition of Human Trafficking

1.2.        Human Trafficking and EU Law

1.3.        October 18: EU Anti-Trafficking Day

1.4.     Ways to prevent human trafficking

Chapter 2: Types of Human Trafficking

2.1.        Forced Prostitution

2.2.        Forced Labour

2.3.        Forced Marriage

2.4.        Organ Theft

2.5.        Child Abduction and Trafficking

2.6.        Child-Selling

2.7.        Forced Child Begging

2.8.        Trafficking Boat

2.9.        Conclusion

Chapter 3: How to Recognize the Signs/Indicators of Human Trafficking

3.1.        Failure to Recognize Trafficking Victims Forced Labour

3.2.        Misidentifying Trafficking Victims Organ Theft

3.3.        Reasons Trafficking Victims Do Not Come Forward

3.4.        Knowledge Is Power

3.5.        Signs of Trafficking:  How to Identify a Victim Being Trafficked

3.6.        Human Trafficking Indicators

3.7.        Questions to Ask

3.8.        Where to Get Help


Chapter 4: Abolition Groups

4.1.        Phases of Abolition

4.2.        Awareness Actions

4.3.        Policy Actions

4.4.        Rescue Actions

4.5.        Prosecution Actions

4.6.        Aftercare Actions

4.7.        Empowerment Actions

4.8.        Groups

4.9.        Your Role and Act in Abolition Groups

Chapter 5: What can the Youth do to help STOP Human Trafficking?

5.1.         Name of NGO & Country

5.2.         Brief Outline of Topic

5.3.        Objective of Write-up

5.4.        Definitions

5.5.        Content

5.6.        Conclusion

5.7.        References

Chapter 6: Recommendations for Improvements/Moving Forward

Chapter 7: General Indicators and Signs of Human Trafficking

7.1.        General Indicators

7.2.        Children

7.3.        Sexual Exploitation

7.4.        Domestic Servitude

7.5.        Labour Exploitation

7.6.        Begging and Petty Crime



This manual is a culmination of contributions from several young people that took part in the IUME youth exchange that was implemented in Malta in June 2018. The aim of this youth exchange was to bring together young people and their leaders to participate in the implementation of a project that focused on raising awareness on human trafficking using arts. Taking advantage of Valletta being the European Capital of Culture for 2018, the youths performed in the evenings at the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta on 29th June and at the new Paola Pjazza on the 30th of June 2018

You can easily download the manual here   trafficking