Human Trafficking: What tools are available to measure and address businesses’ impact?

This week TTRP welcomes a contribution from Irene Pietropaoli. Irene is a co-founder and director of Measuring Business & Human Rights (MB&HR), a research project that aims to advance the capacity of businesses and corporate stakeholders to assess the extent to which companies meet their responsibility to respect human rights. She is a PhD candidate at the Law school of Middlesex University, London. In the past years she worked as a researcher at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, and previously as a consultant at Maplecroft for the trafficking and the forced labour human rights indexes, and for the legal programme of ECPAT International. She is now based in Yangon, Myanmar.

Companies become implicated in human trafficking either in their supply-chain when suppliers and sub-contractors engage in trafficking or related forced labour, or directly in their operations, when, for example, they transport or harbour victims. This article describes initiatives and tools developed to measure the extent to which companies meet their responsibility in relation to human trafficking.  (more…)

Christian Engagement in US Anti-trafficking Activism: Precedents and Contexts (Part 2)

This is the second of a two-part post adapted from Letitia M. Campbell and Yvonne C. Zimmerman, “Christian Ethics and Human Trafficking Activism: Progressive Christianity and Social Critique,” Journal of the Society for Christian Ethics 34:1 (2014). While Part 1 examines briefly the history and impact of Christian activism on anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States, this post focuses on feminism, evangelicalism and anti-trafficking. 

Yvonne is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio near Columbus, OH and Letitia is a Ph.D. candidate and Woodruff Scholar in religion, ethics and society at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Since 2012 they have been collaborating on developing analyses of and response to human trafficking from a progressive Christian perspective that includes queer, feminist and antiracist commitments.

Political analysts and commentators frequently express surprise at the alliance between feminists and evangelical Christians in the fight against sex trafficking. However surprising to casual observers, this collaboration follows the pattern set by an earlier alliance between feminists and religious conservatives in the anti-pornography movement of the 1970s and 80s. Historian Carolyn Bronstein describes the origins of the feminist anti-pornography movement in grassroots feminist campaigns against images of sexual violence in the mainstream media. She charts the development of feminist alliances with social conservatives in the late 1970s and 1980s, showing how these diverse coalitions worked across pronounced political differences to advance anti-pornography agendas at local, state and national levels. The alliance between secular feminists and conservative Christians on the issue of pornography came to define the anti-pornography movement, and it has had an enduring impact on both the women’s movement and evangelical Christianity. (more…)

Christian Engagement in US Anti-trafficking Activism: Precedents and Contexts (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part post adapted from Letitia M. Campbell and Yvonne C. Zimmerman, “Christian Ethics and Human Trafficking Activism: Progressive Christianity and Social Critique,” Journal of the Society for Christian Ethics 34:1 (2014). Part 1 examines briefly the history and impact of Christian activism on anti-trafficking initiatives in the United States. Part 2 will focus on feminism, evangelicalism and anti-trafficking. 

Yvonne is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio near Columbus, OH and Letitia is a Ph.D. candidate and Woodruff Scholar in religion, ethics and society at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Since 2012 they have been collaborating on developing analyses of and response to human trafficking from a progressive Christian perspective that includes queer, feminist and antiracist commitments.

The significant involvement of evangelical Christians in anti-trafficking activism and advocacy has been widely noted by politicians, legislators, scholars, activists, and social service providers — sometimes approvingly, sometimes with concern. The historical roots of this involvement are less widely discussed, but they are nonetheless critical for understanding the ways that Christian theologies have shaped the goals and strategies of the contemporary US movement to end human trafficking.

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Smarter Funding for Anti-Trafficking Work

This post is by Rebecca Napier-Moore and Mike Dottridge, who have just edited the September 2014 issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. The issue is themed Following the Money: Spending on anti-trafficking. Six authors contributed research to the volume and five others wrote opinion pieces on how to best spend 10 million dollars in anti-trafficking work. Rebecca and Mike also trawled through mountains of data on anti-trafficking funding to compile a Global Funding Information Sheet and wrote an article (Do We Know Where the Money for Anti-Trafficking is Going?) for discussion at a workshop last year. No research had been done previously on money trails in anti-trafficking work.

Rebecca Napier-Moore is Editor of the Anti-Trafficking Review. She is also a consultant, working most recently for the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and UNWomen and has published on women’s empowerment, migrants’ rights, and accountability in anti-trafficking.

Mike Dottridge was guest editor of the September 2014 issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review and is a consultant on human rights issues, based in the United Kingdom. He has previously worked for Amnesty International and for Anti-Slavery International, where he was Director. He is a trustee for the United Nations Voluntary Fund on contemporary forms of slavery, a fund that gives grants worth about USD 0.5 million a year, with about half going to assist people who have been trafficked.

Lots of people talk about money in anti-trafficking work. The ILO has tried to estimate the profits related to forced labour, with a figure of USD 150 billion a year gaining traction. Others have tried to estimate the ‘cost of a slave,’ though we are not sure what this kind of estimate is supposed to achieve apart from fundraising and PR. Governments and businesses are starting to try to ensure ‘trafficking free’ investments and supply chains.

Very rarely does anyone talk about the money that governments and philanthropists give to end trafficking. Doing so involves critiquing a sector that most people see as doing unqualifiedly good work. Critiquing the way money is spent or how much of it is spent involves ‘biting the hand that feeds’ and funds the work. No development/aid sector is perfect, however, and frank conversations about financial transparency are vital to accountability – accountability not only to funders, but also to the people who are supposed to benefit from anti-trafficking funding. (more…)

A work shift? The labour approach to trafficking for forced labour in the Greater Mekong Subregion

This week’s contribution to the blog is written by Marja Paavilainen and Anna Olsen. For thousands of migrant workers in the Greater Mekong Subregion trafficking for forced labour is an everyday risk. This article explores ways that a ‘labour approach’ can prevent such exploitation and protect the rights of victims, particularly measures included in the ILO’s new legally binding Protocol on forced labour.

Marja Paavilainen is Chief Technical Adviser of the Forced Labour Action in the Asian Region (FLARE project) in the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific, based in Bangkok. Anna Olsen is Technical Officer, Tripartite Action to Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS TRIANGLE project) in the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, also based in Bangkok. To find out more on ILO work on forced labour, trafficking in persons and labour migration in the Asia Pacific region, please visit: AP-Forced Labour Net and AP-Migration. 

The link between voluntary migration, trafficking in persons and forced labour is expressly recognized in the new Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29). In the Greater Mekong Subregion, there is already broad recognition that trafficking for forced labour occurs primarily where migrant workers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam are deceived or coerced into exploitative situations during the process of voluntarily moving from their homes in search of decent work. The moment when voluntary migration transforms into a trafficking or forced labour experience is hard to pinpoint; it can happen in the country of origin, when debt bondage conditions are placed on the migrant, or in training centres when freedom of movement is restricted. Or, it can happen after arrival in the country of destination, as in the example below. (more…)

Au pair?: the tenuous protection of live-in nannies

I have embarked on the journey dreaded by any London parent – the search for affordable childcare. My search so far has shown that rather than spending the average minimum of £12,000 a year, I could get childcare for as little as £3 per hour (well below the national minimum wage), plus bed and board, by getting an au pair. While nurseries and childminders (individuals who care for a limited number of children in their own home) are regulated and inspected by OFSTED, and nannies are considered formal employees and thus due relevant rights, the world of the au pair, who lacks the status of “worker” seems absent from oversight.  The result is that au pairs (often young women) are potentially vulnerable to harsh and inappropriate working conditions. (more…)

Clearing the Slate for Trafficking Survivors

We would like to warmly welcome a post by Suzannah Phillips, International Women’s Human Rights Clinic Fellow at CUNY School of Law.  Suzannah supervises students in the anti-trafficking project at CUNY School of Law’s International Women’s Human Rights Clinic (IWHR Clinic) to assist trafficking survivors to clear criminal convictions from their record. She is also a primary author of a new report published by the IWHR Clinic entitled Clearing the Slate: Seeking Effective Remedies for Criminalized Trafficking Victims.

All too often, individuals who are trafficked into or within the sex trade come into contact with the criminal justice system following arrest for offenses that they are compelled to engage in as a result of the trafficking situation. Rather than being recognized as victims, many are prosecuted and convicted and are then haunted by these criminal records long after they have escaped from the trafficking situation.

Because sex work is a crime throughout the majority of the U.S., individuals trafficked into or within the sex trade are at risk of arrest for prostitution and loitering for prostitution. Trafficking victims also may be compelled to engage in—or may be arrested for or convicted of—other illicit behavior as a result of the trafficking, particularly where an arresting officer is unable to document sufficient facts for a prostitution charge. Trafficking victims involved in the sex trade are vulnerable to arrest for vagrancy, trespass, disorderly conduct, crimes against nature, larceny, and drug and immigration offenses. (more…)

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