BackgroundMen comprise nearly two-thirds of trafficked and forced labourers in common low-skilled labour sectors including fishing, agriculture and factory work. Yet, most evidence on human trafficking has focused on women and girls trafficked for sex work, with scant research on trafficked men and boys.
MethodsWe analyse survey data from the largest systematic consecutive sample of trafficked people collected to date to describe the prevalence of violence, occupational health risks and injuries and associated factors. Participants were labour-trafficked men and boys using post-trafficking support services in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
FindingsData are presented on 446 males aged 10-58. Men and boys were mainly trafficked for fishing (61.7%), manufacturing (19.1%) and begging (5.2%). Fishermen worked extensive hours (mean 18.8 hours/day, SD 5.9) and factory workers worked on average 11.9 hours/day (SD 2.9). 35.5% of male survivors had been injured while trafficked; 29.4% received no personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves). The most commonly reported injuries among all males were deep cuts (61.8%) and skin injuries (36.7%), injuries for which fewer than one-quarter reported receiving medical care. Six fishermen lost body parts, none of whom received medical care. Most males (80.5%) had no or very few rest breaks. One-third (37.8%) experienced severe violence. Work-related injuries were associated with severe violence (AOR 3.44, CI:1.63-7.26), being in the fishing sector, (AOR 4.12, CI:2.39-7.09) and threats (AOR 2.77, CI:1.62-4.75). Experiencing any violence was associated with threats (AOR 26.86, CI:14.0-51.23), being in the fishing sector (AOR 18.53, CI:8.74-39.28) and fluency in language of destination country (AOR 0.39, CI:0.20-0.75).
ConclusionThis study highlights the abuse and extreme occupational hazards suffered by trafficked men and boys. Occupational health and safety interventions are urgently needed to protect male migrant labourers working in high-risk sectors, particularly fishing.