In a statement to a custodial judge against her father, James Spears, American singer Britney Spears compared her situation to a form of human trafficking.

Namely, American law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to force a person to engage in commercial sex acts or to work against his will.

The degree of financial and personal control that Spears describes is reminiscent of the control tactics and coercion that traders use in labor exploitation situations.


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Shocking: Is Britney Spears a victim of human trafficking?!


Vulnerable people are the prey of traffickers. The most common vulnerability to labor exploitation is the disability, which includes, but is not limited to, mental and physical health, as well as substance abuse.


Shocking: Is Britney Spears a victim of human trafficking?!

Labor exploitation remains insufficiently clear and too often overlooked. This is how human trafficking works in the United States:

Abuse of “holes” in the law: Traffickers often work within the law when they exploit their victims, as Britney’s family did.

The exploitation of Mental Disorders and/or Disabilities: In her statement, Spears said she felt she would be punished if she did not agree to a rehabilitation program or if she didn’t hold rehearsals. There are many documented cases of trafficking in people with disabilities, while people with mental disorders are also very susceptible to victimization. As with Spears, it is not uncommon for people with disabilities and/or mental disorders to rely on caregivers to meet their basic needs, giving carers the opportunity to abuse that dependency and force them to work.


Shocking: Is Britney Spears a victim of human trafficking?!


Physical and emotional isolation: Spears said she could not see her friends (physical isolation) and said she felt “abandoned and alone” (emotional isolation). A key method used by traffickers involves isolating victims from family, friends, or other outside sources who can provide support to help them maintain control.

Ongoing Surveillance: Spears talked about living with nurses, security and other staff who constantly monitored and denied her privacy – they even went so far as to see her undress. Surveillance is another key method used by traffickers to control their victims, prevent them from seeking help, or leave.


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Keeping money or personal documents: Spears claims she did not have access to her credit card, cash, or passport. She also said that she was threatened that she would not have access to her money in order to go on vacation if she refused to go to therapy.

Coercive contracts: In trafficking situations, contracts can form a significant part of forcing victims to remain in a situation of exploitation.


Shocking: Is Britney Spears a victim of human trafficking?!


Recall, Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case of Britney Spears, rejected the singer’s request to remove her father James Spears as a guardian a few days after the singer publicly demanded her release.


Shocking: Is Britney Spears a victim of human trafficking?!


Further details on why she made the decision hasn’t yet been released, although a new petition seeking Britney Spears’ release is expected to be filed soon.


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