Beatings, kidnapping, sexual slavery, torture, even murder.
It's described in detail in the State Department's annual human trafficking report that shows the problem getting worse in a number of countries, including China and Russia. The United States also is not immune from the disturbing practice.
Assessing governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery the 13th annual report released on Wednesday describes conditions in 188 countries and territories and notes a disturbing trend: downgrades of 27 countries, upgrades of 14.That compares to the 2012 report that upgraded 29 countries and downgraded 15.
The report places countries in four "tiers" and this year, China, Russia and Uzbekistan, which had been listed for several years on the Tier 2 Watch List, all got automatic downgrades to Tier 3.
Possible penalties include withholding non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance to the country.
Why the downgrades?
Lack of progress against corruption, the report says, along with "lack of political will to confront entrenched forced labor interests."
Trafficking for industry
The report cites the palm oil industry in Malaysia, shrimping in Thailand, and recruitment for domestic work in Cambodia and the apparel and construction businesses in Russia.
Thailand and Malaysia were described as countries of "major concern."
Trafficking also afflicts the United States.
The report says the U.S. "is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children --- both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals --- subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking."
Men, women and children are trafficked in many legal and illegal industries, it says, including in "brothels, massage parlors, street prostitution, hotel services, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, janitorial services, construction, health and elder care, and domestic service."
NGOs reported that Native American girls have been trafficked, it says, "for the purposes of prostitution, pornography, and strip clubs in the United States and Mexico."
Case in Cleveland
The report also cites continuing allegations that foreign nationals with U.S. visas who are employed as domestic workers for diplomatic missions and international organizations are being subjected to forced labor.
In a disturbing example of human trafficking, the day before the report was released the FBI announced in Cleveland that three people were arrested for holding a mother and her child captive for two years.
The FBI said the three held a cognitively disabled woman and her child against her will for more than two years, forcing her to perform manual labor for them, beating her and her child, threatening to kill them, and padlocking them in a room.
On the eve of the report's release, federal authorizes seized 14 7-Eleven stores on New York's Long island and in Virginia and indicted nine owners and managers, charging them with stealing identities and exploiting more than 50 illegal immigrants.
Federal agents are investigating an additional 40 7-Eleven stores.
Authorities say the 7-Eleven defendants allegedly ran a "plantation system" for more than 13 years, forcing the immigrants to work 100 hours a week and pocketing the majority of their pay, while also forcing them to live in and pay rent in boarding houses that the defendants owned.
7-Eleven said it has been cooperating with federal authorities during their investigation.
Report covers 188 countries, territories
The report contains detailed assessments of each of the 188 countries and territories.
In China, the State Department says women and children from neighboring Asian countries, including Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Mongolia, and North Korea, as well as from Russia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, reportedly are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor.