Research on labour exploitation

Since labor exploitation has been criminalized as human trafficking, new cases regularly come to the surface. Increasingly recognized as a human rights violation and as a widespread and important social problem, labor exploitation features high on national as well as international policy agendas. However, we still understand very little of the phenomenon as labor exploitation has been profoundly understudied. The research project The new face of human trafficking: understanding different types of labor exploitation aims to significantly improve our understanding of the phenomenon.

Which types of labour exploitation exist and how can these be understood? These questions will be answered using a newly developed research approach that focuses on both victims and employers. In this project, judicial case files and in-depth interviews with victims and employers will be analyzed. The project builds on years of extensive experience with research on sensitive issues among hard-to-reach populations such as irregular (‘illegal’)migrants.

The research project runs from 2016 to 2020 and is funded by the Dutch research Council (NWO) by means of a personal VENI-grant awarded to Masja van Meeteren in 2015 through its Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The research project promises to bring both the emerging research field and the policy responses to labor exploitation a crucial step forward.


Are you a victim? The low self-identification of victims of labour exploitation.

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What’s in a name? Are labour exploitation and human trafficking the same?

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Tel: +31 71 527 3512

Work address
M.J. van Meeteren
Department of Criminology
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
The Netherlands