Forced labour, also referred to as modern slavery, frequently occurs in regions with limited insight from the outside world. Forced labour includes people who are not free to leave their work without the risk of reprisal; people who have entered into employment under uninformed circumstances, people who automatically are becoming trapped in debt traps or who are not paid a salary as promised. As mines and forests are often isolated from larger communities, the extractive industries account for a considerable proportion of the total 20 to 45 million people that are currently trapped in forced labour.
Forced labour in the Amazon rain forests
Forced labour in illegal logging in the Amazon is widespread. On the Brazilian side of the Amazon, authorities have rescued people who have been forced to work felling trees under slave-like conditions, without pay and entirely without protective equipment. Speaking to Repórter Brasil, one person who was rescued says:
“The foreman says it’s better to pay 3,000 for a “pistolero” (an armed man) than pay 5,000 to an employee. It’s cheaper for the foreman. He points a gun in our faces and threatens us. But reporting this to the police would be suicide for us. There’s too much death in the forest.”
Forced labour is also widespread in the Peruvian Amazon. Estimates put the number of people that are victims of forced labour in illegal logging in Peru at more than 30,000. Trafficking of women and girls for forced labour, primarily for prostitution, in these areas is widespread, and Peru’s government is accused of not taking sufficient steps to combat this. Trafficking and child labour are also widespread in many of the illegal gold mines in the south of the country.