Press Releases

Statement on the Arrest of an Indian Consular Official and Alleged Exploitation of a Domestic Worker

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 19, 2013) – Polaris Project, a leading organization in the global fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, released a statement today following media reports of the arrest of an Indian consular official, Devyani Khobragade, in New York last week. The case centers on the alleged labor exploitation of a domestic worker.

Keeli Sorensen, Polaris Project’s Director of National Programs, said:

“At its core, this case is about the alleged labor exploitation of a victim. According to the criminal charges filed in New York, a woman was promised a job providing a wage at a set number of hours. However, the contract her employer signed was a lie designed to trick the United States into issuing a visa. These are precisely the indicators we see time and time again through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline that make people vulnerable to labor trafficking. Victims of labor trafficking are often overworked, underpaid, abused physically or psychologically, and subjected to threats.

“Domestic workers are among the most isolated and vulnerable workers across the United States. Too often, individuals in positions of power and privilege use force, fraud, or coercion to lure people of all ages and backgrounds into modern slavery, and this simply must stop. Polaris Project supports the efforts of the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. State Department to investigate potential cases of human trafficking and labor exploitation regardless of the wealth, position, or status of the person accused.” 

BACKGROUND: Polaris Project operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, a national and confidential hotline available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In November, Polaris released a report analyzing five years’ worth of hotline data, which highlighted domestic work as the most commonly reported type of labor trafficking. In the time period between December 7, 2007, and December 31, 2012, the hotline received reports on 550 cases of potential labor trafficking involving domestic workers. Of these cases, 38 involved victims with A-3 or G-5 visas, which indicate that their employers are foreign diplomats or officials.

People can receive help, report a tip, or request information or training by calling the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to BeFree (233733).

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