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Human trafficking

Trafficking for forced labour: Diane’s story

17 November 2014


Diane was trafficked to Paris from her home country, Burkina Faso, and held in domestic servitude by an affluent family from Africa. For two years she endured terrible conditions:  she was forced to work 19 hours a day, only allowed out of the apartment to take the family’s children to school, offered leftovers to eat and was threatened, insulted and debased by her employer.

Eventually, Diane plucked up the courage to run away and shortly after came into contact with the French NGO, Committee Against Modern Slavery (Comité contre l’Esclavage Moderne). The Committee integrated Diane into a social assistance programme to help her recover from the trauma.

Yearly, the UN Slavery Fund supports the Committee and several dozens of other organizations worldwide that offer refuge and specialized rehabilitation assistance to victims of modern slavery.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that approximately 53 million people, mainly women and children, are employed as domestic workers and of those, 30 percent, or nearly 16 million, have no access to legal protection. These figures are likely to be an underestimation, the ILO says, because domestic workers are hidden from the public view and are usually not counted in labour surveys.

According to the social worker assigned to her case, Diane was “psychologically very fragile” due to the suffering she endured during servitude and her undocumented status. 

However, she has now rebuilt her life in France and is the mother of two children. The Committee continues to support her in the legal case brought against her former employers.

Read Diane’s story and others in “The Human Faces of Modern Slavery”.

The UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery is financed by State and other contributions. Established in 1991, the Fund is managed by the UN Human Rights Office, and has awarded several million US dollars in grants to more than 500 organizations worldwide to support projects delivering humanitarian, legal, psychological and social assistance to victims of slavery. Support from donors is more than ever required in view of the increased number of requests for support received which contrast with the decreasing income affecting the Fund’s operations.

In addition to traditional slavery, modern forms of slavery include serfdom, forced labour, debt bondage, the worst forms of child labour, the sale of children, forced and early marriage, the sale of wives and inherited widows, and trafficking in persons for exploitation and sexual slavery.

17 November 2014