- December 23, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
Though it often goes unrecognized, human trafficking for the purpose of forced labor absolutely does happen in the U.S. In 2020 alone, the Department of Justice opened 663 investigations into suspected human trafficking activity, and for every confirmed case, there are likely many more yet to be discovered.
Human trafficking is the use of lies, threats, violence, or other forms of coercion to force a person to work against their will or under unacceptable conditions. The coercion process often involves physically relocating the person and cutting them off from any support system other than the employer, though this tactic is not required for a situation to qualify as human trafficking.
While most recognized human trafficking cases in the U.S involve sexual exploitation, non-sexual forced labor is also a serious injustice that should always be addressed. Human trafficking is both a crime and a civil offense, so survivors can seek justice in multiple ways at once.
Survivors Are Suing Several Hindu Temples for Human Trafficking and Forced Labor
The prominent Hindu organization, Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is currently facing accusations of human trafficking in temples across four states, including one location in Lilburn, Georgia.
According to the ongoing lawsuit, BAPS lured over 200 people from India to work on constructing the temples, exploiting their low-caste status and limited options at home. When they arrived, BAPS allegedly confiscated their passports, forced them to work as many as 13 hours each day for as little as $1.20, and effectively imprisoned them on the temple grounds under constant guard. Some of the plaintiffs say they were held in servitude, moving between various temples, for up to nine years.
These are textbook human trafficking conditions and are entirely illegal. Assuming the allegations are true, every one of those 200 people, and any others who have yet to come forward, are entitled to vast compensation for the abuse they’ve suffered, and for the work and time that BAPS has stolen from them.
If This Sounds Familiar to Your Experience, the Law Is on Your Side
Human traffickers use a range of strategies to control their victims and avoid being found out. Most commonly, however, they will prey on their victims’ fears — law enforcement, homelessness, or being sent back to a different abusive situation, for example.
If you’ve been forced to work for a human trafficker, you’ve probably been told that the situation you’re in is somehow legal, or perhaps that you yourself are a criminal and will go to jail if the law gets involved.
The truth is, no contract, debt, or immigration arrangement gives your employer the right to do any of the following:
- Withhold your passport or other personal documents
- Physically force or intimidate you into staying with them
- Pay you less than the legal minimum wage for your area
- Lie to you in order to convince you to work
If these things have happened to you, while working for BAPS or any other organization or individual, you are most likely a victim of human trafficking. The people who have exploited you can be brought to justice and forced to pay you what they owe.
For a free consultation on your case and your options, reach out to The Stoddard Firm at any time.