Modern Slavery

Slavery survivors make bricks at a brick kiln in India made possible through a State Department grant.

Slavery survivors make bricks at a brick kiln in India. In South Asia, there are cases of entire families who are forced to work in brick kilns to repay debts. (Free the Slaves/Cassie and Jordan Timpy)

Modern Slavery

Human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, is a global crime and a major threat to international peace and security.

It undermines the rule of law and robs millions of their freedom and dignity. Illicit revenue gained from exploitation enriches domestic traffickers, international criminal networks, and terrorists.

According to the International Labor Organization, there are an estimated 25 million victims of human trafficking around the world. Victims can be men, women, and children, and are often hidden in plain sight in agricultural fields, construction sites, restaurants, massage parlors, hotels–even private homes.

Traffickers use coercion, including debt manipulation, threats of arrest, deportation, or violence against the victim and their family members, to force victims into modern slavery.

Building Freedom Brick by Brick

With the help of State Department grants, the Kukdaha villagers purchased a brick kiln and have gone from being coerced to work without pay to building their own homes and earning a living for their families.

To me, this brick means freedom.”

– Sanjafi, Slavery Survivor, India

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With the help of State Department grants, the Kukdaha villagers purchased the brick kiln and have gone from being coerced to work without pay to building their own homes and earning a living for their families. (Free the Slaves/Cassie and Jordan Timpy)

brick slavery kiln

Survivors of slave labor made this brick at the kiln in Kukdaha, India, where they were once forced to work. (Collection of the National Museum of American Diplomacy)

What do the letters on the brick mean?

The Kukdaha villagers emboss their bricks with the letters R and J to honor the Hindu god Ram, and the Hindu goddess Janki (Sita). Ram and Janki are husband and wife–like many of the couples who now work freely as co-owners of the kiln.

Fighting for Freedom

The State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons leads America’s global efforts to stop human traffickers and protect victims.

The United States partners with other countries, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, and survivors to raise awareness of human trafficking, strengthen laws, prosecute those responsible, and help victims rebuild their lives.

To help achieve these goals, the State Department funds more than $125 million in foreign assistance programs in over 76 countries around the world.

2020 TIP Report Human Trafficking

Since 2001, the State Department has helped raise awareness of human trafficking around the world through its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.