Forced labour slavery is a violent crime. Physical and sexual assault are rampant: In IJM cases, we have documented forced labour slaves who have been beaten, gang raped, locked in tiny rooms, starved and even killed. Victims who try and escape commonly report being tracked down, beaten and returned to the facility. But many victims of slavery don’t try to run away, because owners use fear and deception that traps them more strongly than physical locks and walls.
One of the most common techniques to entrap labourers is through false debts. An owner lures a poor person into slavery by offering a small advance payment for their labour. The owner then ensures it is impossible for the slave to ever repay by inflating the debt owed with exorbitant interest charges, not paying the victim the promised wages and prohibiting him or her from working anywhere else. These false debts can be passed from one generation to the next; we have identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) who have been forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20.