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.