What is Trafficking in Persons? (TIP)

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a serious organised transnational crime that targets and violates vulnerable individuals for the sole purpose of exploitation. Every year, more and more people move across borders in search of a better life, increasingly falling prey to traffickers looking to take advantage of their situation by luring them in with false promises.

The majority of trafficked victims come from impoverished backgrounds and are in a position of vulnerability, making them easy targets for criminal exploitation. Acquired by improper means of force, fraud or deception, and stripped away of their basic human rights, victims are coerced into forced labour or service, various forms of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude or removal of organs.

According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Trafficking in Persons Protocol is comprised of three elements:

  • an action (being recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons); 
  • a means by which that action is achieved (threats or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, and the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve consent of a person having control over another person); and
  • a purpose of the action/means (namely, exploitation, which includes, at a minimum, “the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”). 

In essence, the crime of Trafficking in Persons violates not only the principals of faith, law, and basic human rights; it also reduces human value to that of a traded commodity, without the dignity that makes humans unique among other creatures.

Almost all countries around the world face the challenge of TIP in one form or another. The Government of Bahrain is committed to the eradication of this cross-border crime, and is continuously applying preventive measures through a pan-national collaboration. As such, in a bid to combat TIP, the Kingdom has adopted the ‘4 Ps’ framework with its National Strategy for combatting Trafficking in Persons: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership.


Trafficking in Persons (TIP) can be a difficult crime to spot as it exists in a number of different forms. Different traffickers exploit their victims in different ways.

Recognising the common signs or indicators of these offences is the first step in putting an end to the exploitation. As TIP is a multi-faceted crime, the indicators are not always definitive. In some TIP occurrences, indicators may be absent – alternatively, even if indicators are present, that does not necessarily mean that a situation is trafficking.

Always stay vigilant, and familiarise yourself with the signs. The following types of trafficking have been observed in the Kingdom of Bahrain:

Forced Labour

One of the biggest forms of trafficking, forced labour is when a person is coerced into working for little to no salary and often under the threat of penalty. This may include retention of passport, violence and intimidation, or threat of exposure to regulating authorities.

  • Employee shows signs of psychological or physical abuse
  • Confinement or forced restriction of movement
  • Withholding passport or legal documents, salary or excessive salary reductions
  • Threat of exposure to immigration authorities
  • Lack of health and safety standards, resulting in dangerous working conditions
  • Forced to live in accommodation provided by the employer
  • Working excessively long hours with very few breaks
Debt Bondage

Debt bondage is another form of forced labour, coerced into working to pay off a debt, with no control over his/her wages.

  • Worker shows signs of abuse
  • Employee earns very little
  • Worker has to pay for his/her own equipment and food
  • No access to labour contract
  • Worker has signed a blank document or a contract in a language that they do not understand
Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a type of exploitation where a person is forced or deceived into performing commercial sexual activity against their will. This may include prostitution, pornography or other sexual services.

  • The victim is closely guarded or appears to be under observation, showing signs of physical abuse and emotional trauma
  • The person uses phrases commonly associated with the vice trade, even if they have limited English vocabularies
  • May draw attention to themselves by speaking in code words
  • May have an irregular migration status
  • The person regularly changes accommodation, or is confined to specific locations
  • Workers are not allowed access to their earnings

If you, or someone you know, has experienced any of the indicators listed above, visit the Expat Protection Centre or call the National Anti-Trafficking Hotline on 995.

It is vital that you do not put yourself at risk of abuse; if you are in immediate danger, call 999 immediately.