Modern-day slavery is distinct from "traditional" slavery, as it is not defined as the buying or ownership of one person by another. Rather, modern slavery is the treatment of people as mere instruments for labor, while controlling their life and liberty.
The Israeli Penal Code recognizes the severity of modern slavery under article 375(a) titled "Holding a person under conditions of Slavery", which was added as part of the 2006 Anti-Trafficking Law. The punishment for this crime is a 16 year prison sentence. Additionally, article 376 prohibits "Forced Labor" whereby a person is forced into work by another by use of force or other coercive measures, or by threatening with either one. The "other coercive measures" do not have to amount to physical abuse, and may include exploiting a financial crisis, or implied threats.
Foreign people are often the most vulnerable to become victims of slavery and forced labor. These include, for example, migrant workers who leave behind their families and all forms of support and arrive in a country unfamiliar with its language, culture and legal system. Furthermore, before leaving their native countries many of these migrant workers are required to pay high sums of money - "recruitment fees" - enabling them to come to Israel. In order to pay these fees, many of them take loans. Essentially these high debts bind the victims to work until they have been paid off, sometimes under exploitative conditions. It is important to distinguish between the severe criminal offenses listed in the Israeli Penal Code (human trafficking, slavery, forced labor), and infringement of labor and safety laws governing the employment of migrant workers.
Workers in the field of care giving or agriculture are especially vulnerable to slavery and forced labor, as many of them are pysically isolated.
While most of the victims of forced labor and slavery are foreigners, citizens of a country may also fall victim to these crimes. In Israel, there have been several criminal charges in the offenses of forced labor and holding a person under conditions of slavery. Two such cases involved families living in cult-like circumstances. In these cases, the victims were Israeli citizens.