NDWA’s Beyond Survival campaign was launched in 2013 and seeks to build the capacity of our affiliates and their communities to respond to the trafficking of domestic workers.

Through worker-led organizing that links trafficking to worker rights, immigrant rights, gender equity and racial justice, we are working to end human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.

Beyond Survival focuses on lifting up the experience and leadership of domestic worker survivors of trafficking. Our campaign tells stories of leadership and policy change led by our worker members.

From December 2007 to December 2017, the Polaris-operated National Human Trafficking Hotline learned about approximately 8,000 labor trafficking cases. The highest number of cases – almost 23 percent – involved domestic work. In human trafficking prosecutions, the highest number of criminal and civil cases for labor trafficking in 2017 were domestic work-related.

The fact that domestic workers make up the greatest percentage of labor trafficking cases recorded by the National Hotline can be attributed in part to this workforce’s near total lack of legal protections – ways to get justice, get back pay or otherwise get help before a situation becomes intolerable or escalates into trafficking. Domestic workers are explicitly excluded from some labor protections and de facto left out of others. This plays out in practical, tangible ways but also in shaping norms and attitudes that lead to exploitation and abuse. Our legal framework implies that these people do not matter as much as others, which is a dangerous message to send to employers.

Judith was promised $1800 per month, paid holidays and other benefits but, in reality, she worked up to 18 hours per day and received $500 per month. Judith provided full-time childcare and also was responsible for all the cooking and cleaning. Her employers held her passport and she was subject to physical abuse by her employers.

Survivor Story from The Human Trafficking of Domestic Workers 2017 Report

On top of the lack of protections under U.S. law, the system by which many domestic workers from foreign countries enter the United States is so poorly designed that it could arguably be said to encourage exploitation and trafficking. Social services that provide assistance specifically for this population are relatively few and far between.

The result is that many domestic workers labor in exploitative conditions and experience wage theft while working longer hours than agreed upon and usually performing additional tasks – like a nanny also being a housekeeper – without any corresponding increase in wages. The situation escalates into human trafficking if, for example, the domestic worker was engaged or recruited through fraudulent means or if the worker is forced to remain on the job through threats, violence or other forms of force or coercion.

Learn more about trafficking of domestic workers – read our reports and explore factsheets and resources.


Learn More

Read our reports and explore factsheets and resources.

Spread the Word

Share information with your social networks and include the hashtag #BeyondSurvival

Get Connected

Text WOMEN to 33843 to receive updates via SMS or sign up below to receive email updates.*

*By providing your cell number, you agree to receive automated news and action mobile alerts from the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). Recurring messages. Reply STOP to cancel. Message & data rates may apply. Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.