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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Pulse check: Singapore year-end review 2012

As the end of 2012 approaches we decided to conduct an informal assessment of human trafficking-related issues in Singapore.

Aside from the National Plan of Action, the big policy deal this year was the consultation and subsequent enactment of the Amendments to the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA), which took effect on 9th November. This legislation enhances the Ministry of Manpower’s ability to investigate and enforce employment practices, and creates harsher penalties and new offences to address employment abuses. For instance, kickbacks, payments made to an employer by a worker in return for a job, are now a criminal offense, as are illegally importing and supplying foreign labor (involving routes outside the existing work permit scheme) and illegally recovering employment costs from foreign workers. The latter would include, for example, deducting the cost of health insurance from an employee, whereas this should be provided by the employer. (more…)

Old problems, new problems – how the Government sees trafficking in the UK today

On 18th October 2012, UK Anti-trafficking Day, the Inter-departmental Ministerial Group (IDMG) on human trafficking, published the first annual UK trafficking assessment report.  There was extensive media coverage of the report, replete with echoes of self-congratulation: the UK Government was taking the issue of trafficking seriously and deftly addressing the challenges faced.  Positively, IDMG’s report is thorough, perhaps due to the high levels of access to data held by police and immigration, and provides an assessment free of hysteria and emotional hyperbole.  However, as established by the Council of Europe and the US State Department, the UK’s response to human trafficking has sometimes been inconsistent.  For instance, as Georgina Perry showed in her evaluation of the UK’s response to trafficking and the Olympics, accelerated levels of hype can often belie the reality on the ground.   We were interested in what the Government had to say for itself and, considering the levels of access and the thoroughness of the report, whether any light would be shed on under-researched areas of trafficking.  While the report is not blazing any new trails here, there were four aspects of the report which grabbed our attention. (more…)

Ethnographic evaluation in sexual health – a useful method for improving the impact of preventative trafficking policy and programmes?

Today we are pleased to welcome the following guest post from Stephen Bell. For the past 11 years Stephen has been working in academic, non-governmental, public and private sector-based research and evaluation, with a focus on HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and community-based social development. This post is written from a personal point of view.

He is keen to emphasise that he does not know very much about trafficking. However, he is interested in exploring how gathering local grassroots knowledge can help governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) design and implement more relevant, meaningful and effective programmes and policies. Based on a recent publication about ethnographic evaluation, we contacted him to see if he would be interested in applying some of these ideas to trafficking.

The issue. Several developments have implications for understanding and measuring change in human trafficking in the UK. These include

  • a recent effort by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to describe the full extent of human trafficking nationally;
  • knowledge that while trafficking affects families living in interconnected societies worldwide, accurate statistics on numbers affected by trafficking are difficult to produce due to its hidden nature;
  • a growing concern among some involved in international development to find ways of monitoring programmes and assessing impact that are more grounded in people’s everyday lives.

This blog post discusses the potential use of ethnographic evaluation – which has been defined elsewhere as qualitative research underpinned by ethnographic principles for evaluative purposes – to enable practitioners and policy makers to strengthen victim-centred trafficking prevention policy design and programme delivery. (more…)

The cost of emotive language

Another anti-trafficking event; another tear-streaked verse of “We Shall Overcome”. Nothing divides a conference like the predictable videography of trafficked individuals set to music. The reaction is palpable, split between professionals working in the field (those who’ve begrudgingly attended) who avert their eyes out of embarrassment or jaded passivity and the newcomers, moved by visual imagery and heartbreaking accounts. Having attended scores of practitioner and advocate conferences on diverse and sensitive issues, including domestic violence, child abuse, sexual violence and gangs; never have we been subjected to such emotional appeals in a professional environment as in the field of human trafficking. This is not limited to Singapore, of course. At the Oslo Freedom Forum, Julia Ormond reportedly “ended an otherwise thoughtful talk on supply-chain slavery by singing ‘Amazing Grace’. With an echo effect.” (more…)

A critique of the Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains (Eradication of Slavery) Bill

In June 2012, the Labour MP Michael Connarty submitted a Private Members Bill which sought to:

Require large companies in the UK to make annual statements of measures taken by them to eradicate slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and the worst forms of child labour (as set out in Article 3 of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention No. 182) from their supply chains; to require such companies to provide customers and investors with information about measures taken by them to eliminate slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and the worst forms of child labour; to provide victims of slavery with necessary protections and rights; and for connected purposes.

Currently this proposed legislation is in its second reading (the first opportunity for Members of Parliament to debate the main principles of the Bill) in the House of Commons.  The Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains (Eradication of Slavery) Bill echoes the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, recognising a more holistic interpretation of ‘modern day slavery’ in a globalised world, beyond the oft-repeated focus on sex trafficking.  Though brief, this Bill has the potential to improve the UK’s response to trafficking by requiring that companies publicly declare their efforts to eradicate slavery; where companies find such issues, they ‘shall take action necessary and appropriate to assist people who have been victims and shall report on that action in their annual reports.’  So far, so good. (more…)