Trafficking in humans is defined by international law as a combination of 3 elements: action (recruiting, transport, transfer, lodging and greeting), means (constraint, threat, use of force, fraud, trickery, abuse of authority, abuse of vulnerability) and goal (exploitation).  Exploitation takes on several forms: sexual, economic, domestic, work or services obtained by force, slavery or analogous practices, servitude, taking of organs.

In France, Human Trafficking is defined by article 225-4-1 of the penal code.  THB concerns women, men and children.


In spite of the abolition of slavery, this practice still persists throughout the world, including in France. The term « Slavery » designates several different phenomena.  In fact, it can be a question of so-called « traditional » slavery, sometimes referred to as « ascendant, » which is still practiced in Mauritania or in the Sudan for example.  Today we hear of « Modern Slavery » which designates the trafficking of humans and inherent forms of exploitation.

Slavery also has a definition in itself.  It is the fact of exercising on a person the attributes of property rights or of maintaining a person in a continuous state of subjection, constraining that person to perform a service of work or sex, begging, or any other unpaid service.

The French penal code states that the reduction to slavery is a particularly serious crime punishable by 30 years of imprisonment.  It specifies that any single one of the attributes of right to property (usus-fructus-abus) is enough to qualify as an infraction.


The French penal code defines servitude in its article 225-14-2

Servitude is can be assimilated to forced labor but with the difference that it has to be exercised « habitually, » which contains the idea that the debt could be have no time limit.

One speaks also of servitude for debt.  This is notably the case of young girls arriving in France after having contracted a debt to the persons who organized and financed their coming by paying for the airline ticket, papers and travel expenses. In France they must reimburse these payments by often working without pay.  They never manage to pay off the debt as it continues to increase as new sums need to be advanced to cover lodging and food.  At the centre of this servitude is this notion of recurrence which allows us to understand this spiral in which the victims are caught.


ILO Convention n° 29 contains a wide definition of forced labor, which is defined as « work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. »  Forced labor is always the fruit of means of coercion which not only means the resort to violence but also trickery, threats or manipulations. Employers take advantage of situations making ample profits while employees are often barely remunerated and find themselves in precarious situations. According to the BIT, forced labor concerns 90% of the private economy and activities as diverse as agriculture, domestic work, construction, fishing and the secondary sector.

Forced labor is defined in the French penal code, article 225-14-1


This form of exploitation is invisible, taking place in a hidden private sphere where it is difficult for its victims to have access to their rights.  Exploited persons are in the grip of the home that exploits them; their liberty is reduced and living conditions are often debasing. They have to carry out domestic tasks without financial compensation, sometimes being deprived of sufficient nourishment or access to sanitary conveniences and their relations to the outside are controlled (kidnapping, control of family links, etc).  If the exploited person is foreign, this person is often threatened with denunciation to the Police if he or she does not obey.

The French penal code does not explicitly mention domestic exploitation.  This is sanctioned only when the person works and is housed in debasing conditions.

Let us remember that within the framework of domestic work we can find the notions of forced labor, reduction to servitude and reduction to slavery.


Sexual exploitation, because of the different forms that it can take on, is a complex phenomenon. In fact, it can designate prostitution, pedo-pornography, sexual tourism, etc.  Furthermore, different criminal activities such as hustling, human trafficking, aggressions and rapes can be associated with the notion of sexual exploitation.  Even though there is no consensual definition of sexual exploitation, it implies the relationship between one person who abuses another sexually or uses sexual ends  in exchanghe for goods or services. The inequality of relations is an important element which makes it possible to apprehend this form of exploitation.

Article 225-4-1 of the French penal code refers to sexual exploitation as one of the forms of exploitation of TEH. In practice, TEH with a view to sexual exploitation is often considered from the angle of hustling as defined in articles 225-5 to 225-12 of the penal code.


The exploitation of begging is the fact of organizing begging by another person by whomever, using whatever means, in order for the organizer to profit from the begging.  Those particularly vulnerable are children, handicapped persons, older persons and pregnant women.

Even though French law does not prohibit begging, it represses its exploitation.

Exploitation of begging is defined in the French penal code, article 225-12-5


In spite of progress observed in the living conditions of children throughout the world, today, thousands of children are still victims or exploitation and/or trafficking.

Different reports on the life of children, child prostitution and pornography involving children are on line: www.ap.ohchr.org. The latter are also victims in the primary sectors (agriculture, fishing, mining activities)

UNICEF reminds us that in the world, more than a million children are reported to be victims of THB. THB of minors is particularly intolerable inasmuch as it violates all the rights of children and exposes them to extremely serious dangers for their development, their mental and physical health.


The Council of Europe defines forced marriage and child marriages in Resolution 1468, 2000

A forced marriage is a marriage tainted by the vice of non-consent, i.e. that one of the spouses did not give his or her full and free consent.

As child marriages are prohibited, they can be treated as forced marriages.

The Council of Europe considers that it is a question of a form of THB and urges states to introduce this form in their national legislation considering that, among other things, there is sexual exploitation of the person forced into marriage.  In France, there is no precedent confirming this approach.


Removal of organs is the illicit taking of human organs from living or dead donors without obtaining the donor’s full, lucid and specific consent or without the removal being authorized by internal law.  Furthermore, this definition integrates situations where the donor or even a third person makes a profit or other comparable advantage.

Removal of organs is often linked to organ trafficking and constitutes a violation of dignity and the right to life.  It is also a form of THB that should not be neglected, even if it is theoretically rare in France.