By Ashlie Bailey
Domestic servitude is a type of labor trafficking that in the United States mostly takes place in businesses and the home. Domestic Servitude mostly affects vulnerable and poor people who belong to one or more minority group. To the outside world, they look like ordinary employees working in ordinary businesses and homes but they are being exploited behind the scenes and many of them aren't even aware that they are being mistreated. This can affect both women and men. Victims of domestic servitude are normally recruited through a job offer that is too good to be true.
The vulnerable and poor are affected more because they are more likely to go to desperate measures to find any kind of employment. Once they are promised a job, the traffickers require them to travel to unfamiliar places and usually hide their documentation and identification. Victims of domestic servitude don’t run away because they may have been threatened with deportation, don’t know English, and fear ending up in a worse situation. They know if they disobey, their trafficker will punish them with physical abuse or by taking away what little earnings they have. This is called debt bondage.
Some of the most common areas that victims of domestic servitude work are as maids, servants, and as brides for sale in a forced marriage. Maids and servants work in homes under difficult conditions or you may find them working in hotels. In the United States, both survivors of sex trafficking and survivors of labor trafficking end up working in hotels.
Another area where both labor trafficking and sex trafficking overlap is when a child bride or a bride for sale is forced into an unwanted marriage. We typically refer to this as a type of sex trafficking but it is more than that. It is also labor trafficking because usually these young brides are not only forced into an unwanted sexual relationship; they are also expected to perform the exact same kind of work as a maid or servant in domestic servitude. Their husband becomes both the client and the trafficker at the same time. When I first wrote this article, underage marriage was allowed in all fifty states under special circumstances. Recently, this has begun to change. In some states, it is allowed for a twelve year old to marry a forty year old. Believe it not in the United States, judges allow several cases of child marriage like this to happen each year.