Modern slavery

Human trafficking is another way of describing modern slavery, although it is without any visible chains. This is when someone takes advantage of another person’s hopes and dreams, by forcing the person to live their life not as they choose.

It is a common misunderstanding to think that prostitution is the only manifestation of human trafficking and that only women can become victims of traffickers. Some groups are more exposed than others; migrants or other people in search of a better life, poor people, or drug addicts. Children and homeless young people are also more probable victims of human trafficking.

Anyone can be a perpetrator: someone who acts like your friend, a supervisor, a family member, or even your partner. A human trafficking victim does not believe he is being abused and therefore doesn’t know that he is a human trafficking victim. The perpetrator seduces a victim by showing attention, care, love, safety, or a promise of a job - all to gain the trust of the victim.

If you think you are a human trafficking victim, you can talk to 112 and get help right now.

It can be human trafficking if someone:

  • Doesn’t pay you for your work.
  • Threatens you or your family violence if you don’t do something.
  • Forces you to live in unhealthy circumstances.
  • Keeps you in a confined space against your will.
  • Takes away your passport or other important documents.
  • Forges your passport or provides you with a fake passport
  • Pays for your travel to Iceland and makes you pay the debt by working.
  • Forbids you to talk about your circumstances with your friends, family, or authorities.
  • Uses your addiction to make you do something.
  • Forbids you to seek medical help or demands to accompany you to the doctor.

Human trafficking indicators

Here's a useful guide for those who could possibly have to identify potential human trafficking victims, but the guide can also come in handy for those who simply want to be aware of their surroundings.

Human trafficking manifestations

Human trafficking can be very hidden and can be of all sorts. Oftentimes, more than one example of human trafficking can apply to human trafficking victims.

Do you recognize abuse?

See more stories


Huang-Kai was hired to work as a chef at a restaurant in Reykjavik. His supervisor provided him with housing nearby and promised to send a part of his wages to his family abroad.

When the Covid pandemic started the attitude towards Huang-Kai changed, all of a sudden his passport was taken from him and he did not get any pay. Huang-Kai’s supervisor placed a location app on his phone to track his movements, then forbid him to leave the restaurant and made him sleep on the kitchen floor.

Is this abuse?

If you think you know of a human trafficking victim in your surroundings, contact 112 to get help.

Icelandic Human Rights Centre

At the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, immigrants can get free legal counsel.


The Red Cross Helpline 1717 is a phone service and webchat for those who need someone to talk to in confidentiality. They are open 24 hours, and it's free to call.