Human trafficking can be found in every corner of the world, even today, including within the United States. However, it flourishes in many other countries and the rates within the U.S. may seem to pale in comparison. For example, the Global Slavery Index recently estimated that 794,000 people in Russia in 2016 were living in conditions that they defined as modern slavery. Read the entire report here.
They divided this up into several categories, some of which Americans are more familiar with than others. The more familiar facets are undocumented forced labor and the “Forced sexual exploitation of adults and children.” Forced labor, in particular, seems to thrive, especially in the context of building “stadium sites for the 2018 World Cup.” In 2017, the New York Times reported a huge importation of North Koreans to work on the projects, and in the words of one Russian boss: “They are basically in the situation of slaves.” The UN has asked that North Korean migrant labor be banned by its member states in 2017, but Russia has continued to navigate those waters and exploit the workers (as North Korea also exploits their profits) for projects like the World Cup.
However, illegal and undocumented labor is not the end of it. Many have expressed concern with the state-sanctioned labor, especially within prisons or even at private companies. The Global Slavery Index put it like this: “Russian law allows for compulsory labour to be imposed as a punishment for various activities, including the expression of political or ideological views which are deemed to be ‘extremist’. The definition of ‘extremist activities’ is vague, which could therefore result in arbitrary imprisonment involving compulsory labour.”
In regards to the mandatory labor for prison inmates, some might be quick to compare it to the mandatory labor for inmates in the United States. While parallels can be drawn, Russian gulags are still quite a far cry from some American prisons. Read an article from the Independent regarding imprisoned forced labor in Russia.
Alongside illegal prostitution, forced marriage is a serious problem in Russia as well — and many cases involve children. Human Rights Watch shed light on a story regarding Kheda Goylabieva who was barely 17, and she was being forced to marry a Chechen police chief, Nazhud Guchigov, who 46-years-old and wanting a second wife.
Arranged marriage is very different from forced marriage — in an arranged marriage the children of the parents can feasibly make their complaints or distaste known, and the parents might work with them — not congruent with the values of many, but still different from a forced marriage. A forced marriage is explicitly against the will of the person getting married. For example: you can arrange sexual favors for some kind of payment. That’s going to raise some eyebrows, but it’s definitely different than if you forced someone to provide sexual favors.
Kheda Goylabieva’s marriage to the police chief:
Modern-day slavery is just that — slavery. It exists in every country, and from border to border it may present itself in different forms, but at the end of the day, it is the exploitation of human beings for another’s profit. Check out the Global Slavery Index’s interactive map on modern-day slavery here.
Featured image: Foreigners, imprisoned in Russia, take a walk in the territory of the Corrective Labor Colony #22 located in the small village of Leplei, some 600 km (375 miles) south-east of Moscow, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 1996. It’s Russia’s one and only prison for foreign offenders. Convicts from some thirty nations rarely have visitors and often have problems communicating with each other and their Russian-speaking captors. | AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko