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Session Overview
3-HP036 - 2/2: Reducing Modern Slavery - 2/2
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
2:00pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Prof. Wendy Kay Olsen, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Session Chair: Prof. Jamie Anthony Morgan, Leeds Beckett, United Kingdom

Session Abstract

The papers in this session explain different types of modern slavery, from child labour to forced and bonded labour, trafficked labour, and entrapped labour (ie coercive conditions in the employment relationship). We invite papers quantifying or documenting modern slavery; comparing child labour across countries; explaining the entrapment of labour in South Asia; exploring harmful forms of labour in Africa; and theorizing modern slavery.

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What Are The Factors Affecting Vulnerability Of Bangladeshi Overseas Migrants Towards Forced Labor?. Evidence From A Mixed Method Study

Pallavi Prabhakar, Lopita Huq, Md. Shakil Ahmed, Munshi Sulaiman

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development

According to the Global Slavery Index, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery in 2016, including 24.9 million men, women and children in forced labour in the Asia Pacific region; this translates to 4 out of 1,000 people engaged in different forms of forced labour. Each year, more than 400,000 workers depart from Bangladesh to seek employment abroad and better their lives. Many of the migrants migrate without a signed job contract, salary information, work hours, job description and employment conditions. Such factors make them highly vulnerable to exploitative work conditions in the destination countries and, thereby, to forced labour. This calls for an urgent need to address the determinants of forced labour, factors influencing the socio-economic vulnerability of migrants to forced labour and the ways in which the vulnerabilities can be reduced.

This paper analyses the factors affecting the vulnerability of Bangladeshi overseas migrants/potential migrants and document the experiences of modern slavery from returnees. Data used in this study was collected as a follow up to the census data of migrants and potential migrants, collected by BRAC over the years of 2014, 2016 and 2017. In addition, 4 FGDs and 16 in-depth case studies were conducted. The factors analysed in this study, encompass an assessment of the terms of employment, including work hours, actual and expected salary, work conditions at the destination countries, withheld wages, labour laws. In addition, factors such as channels of migration, forms of abuse experienced (including physical, mental and psychological), restriction of movement, isolation from the social networks, confiscated documents, socio-economic pressure and awareness about the migration procedure were also analysed. The study also examines the role of middlemen, recruitment agencies and the government in ensuring that the migration process is followed properly, and laws and regulations are in place to prevent forced labour.

Findings of the study suggest that Bangladeshi overseas migrants are highly vulnerable to forced labour and face dire conditions destination countries. Many of them, who migrate through middlemen, tend to pay high costs for migration process. Due to lower education levels and lack of skills, the migrants lack important information regarding overseas migration and are highly vulnerable to becoming victims of forced labour. Many migrants in our study experienced mental, social and physical abuse; female migrants experienced sexual abuse at the large scale especially when working as domestic help. We also observed that the migrant workers tend to work extra hours without pay in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

This paper identifies that low education, channels of migration, trust in the middlemen, socio-economic status, employer behaviour, information regarding the migration process, knowledge of the employment terms, social networks in the destination countries, knowledge of language spoken in the destination country are some of the important indicators of vulnerability to forced labour.

Future policies should target greater emphasis on training, regulation on the number of middlemen recruited by recruitment agencies, sensitizing migrants of migration related information with the help of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as BRAC, building safety and protection mechanisms through Bangladeshi Embassies in the destination countries and cautioning the migrants about the losses of migrating through middlemen.

Predicting Child Labour Risks by Social Norms

Jihye Kim, Wendy Olsen, Arkadiusz Wiśniowski

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Social and gender norms are deeply related to the persistence of child labour in India, resulting in clear segregation of jobs between girls and boys. This study critically examines how social norms affect girls' and boys' labour participation beyond the time threshold. We develop a regression model using the Indian Human Development Survey data for all India (2012) and the World Value Survey India (2012) to understand how socio-cultural factors affect girls' and boys' labour participation beyond the time threshold. We have discerned the best threshold on working hours that helps predict whether a child leaves school. The gender and development approach provides a theoretical foundation to understand the effects of gender and social structure on agents' decision making. Social norms that devalue traditions and discourage women's employment increase the risk of child labour. Those norms are combined with seclusion norms, thus varying results according to geographical locations or occupations. Approximately 38 hours of work makes many children be out of school. This study suggests that women's empowerment and transforming people's norms and attitudes towards gender equality are important. Providing more educational opportunities for girls and setting minimum working hours at the national level can help reduce child labour in India.

Anti-trafficking Interventions And Its Unintended Consequences: An Example From Nepal

Shovita Dhakal Adhikari1, Shoba Arun2

1Bournemouth University, United Kingdom,; 2Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Nepal is reckoned to be a source country for sex trafficking and forced labour in South Asia. Approximately 12,000 Nepali girls and young women, the majority of whom are under 16, are trafficked every year to Indian brothels (ILO, 2002). Forced child labour, organ donation, and inter-country adoptions have emerged as new forms of trafficking. Studies show that Nepali children are now trafficked to new destinations, including: the Middle East, Africa, Korea and China (NHRC, 2012; Frederick et al., 2010). Along with cross-border and external trafficking, internal trafficking is also on rise (Frederick et al., 2010). Recognising child trafficking as a violation of human rights, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and international non-government organisations (INGOs) have adopted several international human rights instruments in the last decades. In addition, as part of responding to international commitments, several legislations and policies have been introduced to combat the child trafficking phenomenon. The problem of child trafficking is however yet to be resolved.

Applying diffusion theory (Rogers, 2003), the paper investigates how anti-trafficking policies have been diffused in Nepal, and critically analysing the actual implementation in practice. Data for the article are derived through document analysis and semi-structured interviews with representatives of donor agencies, government offices, I/NGOs and anti-trafficking networks.

The paper brings out the factors that have either individually or collectively stifled the diffusion trajectory of anti-trafficking responses in Nepal– such as ambiguous legal framework, contradictory practices driven by underlying assumptions of a ‘victim archetype’, and other institutional and structural challenges (resource constraints, ambiguity in the roles and responsibilities among law enforcement agencies). As a result, anti-trafficking interventions have resulted in inconsistencies between programmes offered by government and NGOs and unintended consequences, including a lack of focus on local setting ( socio-economic and political) and a limited consideration of children’s reality; very little evidence that the human rights approach has been effectively applied to benefit trafficked children and children in vulnerable situations is available. Rethinking the child trafficking phenomenon and the approaches to interventions is therefore crucial to reduce all forms of child trafficking in Nepal. Trafficking of children is a complex social phenomenon which is linked to broader child protection issues—such as child migration, children living in institutional care, livelihood opportunities for children, and the abuse of children. Having acknowledged these ambiguities a shift from an overwhelming focus on anti-trafficking interventions as informed by the global ‘3 Ps’ framework is paramount. The paper argues that the policies and programmes should be integrated within the broader issues of child protection (birth registration, health, and education).

The Plural Worker: Strategies to Reconcile Commodified Domesticity, Fictive Kinship, and Self-Respect in India’s Paid Domestic Workplaces

Samantha Kathleen Watson1, Indrani Mazumdar2

1Flowminder Foundation, France; 2Centre for Womens Development Studies, India

Within India, seasonal migration by women – whether singly or in family units - to brick kilns, construction sites, and farms, is a longstanding practice. In recent years, however, distinctively female labour migration flows, primarily for paid domestic and garment factory work, have emerged and consolidated. This latter trend is especially notable for occurring within a broader context of low and declining female employment rates across India.

India’s paid domestic work sector has itself undergone rapid expansion and feminisation in the last two decades. Alongside the sector’s rapid growth, shifts in both the composition of the workforce and the conditions and relations of employment are emerging. Another important site of change has been the extension of recruitment practices characteristic of seasonal migrant occupations to the paid domestic work sector. The flux in India’s paid domestic labour sector has resulted in shifts in working conditions, relations, and expectations.In this paper, we explore workers struggles to accommodate, refashion, or overturn established norms for appropriate attitudes and practices in the workplace. We describe key aspects of worker strategies of acquiescence, negotiation, and resistance, and analyse the choices and constraints they entail.

Findings are based on in-depth interviews with 21 women in Ganjam district of Odisha State, India. Respondents were drawn from a listing of women migrant domestic workers recorded during our primary household survey, which covered 4,672 households in 20 villages of Ganjam. Most of our respondents entered into paid domestic work as children, between the ages of 7 and 14 and had remained in the sector ever since. In these cases, labour histories covered many years and multiple employers, and demonstrated extensive adaptation on the part of workers. All but one of our respondents were from landless households reliant on a combination of daily wage labour and remittances for survival.

The paper seeks to unpack the strategies deployed by an especially vulnerable, isolated, and unprotected workforce to counter unacceptable discourses and practices in the workplace. As live-in paid domestic workers, respondents traversed multiple identities and expectations as they transitioned into an uncertain role, recognised as neither wholly as “a member of the family, nor an employee in the public sphere”. As respondents grew into their roles, becoming increasingly familiar with the rules of the game, they deployed a range of strategies to defend against dignity infractions and distance themselves from orthodox depictions of paid domestic workers as submissive and inferior.

In the absence of support networks (none of our respondents belonged to a Trade Union or other association, and few could rely on assistance from family members or brokers), worker’s management of (highly personalised) employment relations took on great importance. This paper aims to highlight workers own strategies, successes, and frustrations, and in turn aid the development of a convergence of perspective and synergy in action on emerging issues related to women’s migration.

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