We must address the root causes of slavery. Otherwise we are limited to dealing with its consequences.
Prevention is essential but complex
Confronting the causes of contemporary slavery is a daunting task. Some find themselves vulnerable to exploitations because they are poor or lack social protection. Some are exposed to unscrupulous profiteers who prey upon their hope for opportunity. Some live where there is criminal impunity; and some in places where unrestrained market forces have imposed upon them generations of labour exploitation, to name just a few.
The drivers of slavery encompass all the big questions of government and economic development. Effective slavery prevention therefore requires a multi-faceted effort from grassroots volunteers right through to the decrees of international institutions.
Prevention is under-resourced
Unfortunately, prevention of slavery remains inadequately researched and under-invested. In 2010, the United Nations Secretary General called for a more comprehensive approach to prevention:
‘While States have carried out educational programmes, awareness-raising campaigns and other initiatives, there is a need to reinforce efforts and resources in the area of prevention. Political commitment at all levels to eliminate trafficking in women and girls is critical. Prevention efforts must be systematic and sustained, and address the root causes and factors that put women and girls at risk…’ (UN Secretary General, 2010, Para 55)
These sentiments echo those of UNICEF, lamenting the lack of preventative strategy in Eastern Europe as long ago as 2005:
‘Very few of the actors involved in anti-trafficking activities are addressing the root causes of trafficking in an empowering way.’ (UNICEF, 2005, p. xiii)
Arise and prevention
Prevention is a thread running through all our alliances. We see prevention as the neglected ‘P’ in the four-pillar paradigm of anti-slavery work (prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership).
While prevention is often the “hardest to measure” we cannot be content merely to address the consequences of slavery. For this reason, Arise is committed to investing in prevention work and contributing to academic literature to improve our understanding of what works.
For us, prevention work comprises:
a. awareness raising,
b. provision of education, training and materials,
c. provision of viable alternative opportunities to those at risk,
d. advocacy (the whole spectrum from mass media to political lobbying), and
e. protection work aimed at ending re-trafficking.
Importance of networks
Only networks will defeat slavery
Effective anti-slavery work must be international
To prevent exploitation in one country, it is often necessary to work in another. For example, an Albanian woman trafficked to the UK for prostitution will need help in the UK; but to prevent her from coming to the UK in the first place, she needs help in Albania. Reducing slavery in countries of destination depends upon stopping the supply of trafficked people, which must mean addressing root causes in source countries. Similarly, the systemic problems which drive slavery - organised crime, exploitation in supply chains, etc - are mostly cross-border in nature, requiring an international response.
Effective slavery prevention must be local
No two stories of slavery are identical. Many of the ‘push’ factors are linked to local environments, and, in many cases, highly specific to the person who is at risk. In rural areas, for example, traffickers often live in their communities, sometimes the perpetrators are family members. Foreign NGO workers cannot be parachuted in to address issues like these. Trust and patient accompaniment are at a premium. People from those same communities are the best placed to do this work.
No single organisation can defeat slavery
Abolishing contemporary slavery often feels like too big a task. It is estimated that at least $150bn per year is made by modern slave-traders. Almost every part of our lives in touched by this issue, from the products we consume to the companies we use. On top of this, the criminals who benefit from exploiting others are well organised and well networked. The anti-slavery movement cannot hope to address such an intractable problem unless it similarly well organised and networks, bridging all sectors. No single organisation has the reach, scope, global footprint, or resources to achieve this.
Addressing root causes, one person at a time
Arise's prevention efforts focus on source countries.
People need people
People who have suffered exploitation need more than the basics. Food and shelter are necessary, but do not themselves bring healing or the ability to move on with their lives. A profound quality of care and trust is essential, which can only be given face-to-face. This is where the real change happens. Yes the kind of work that prioritises this kind of accompaniment is chronically under-funded and under-appreciated.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King Jr.
The power of civil society
A thriving, networked civil society is key for sustained change. Arise believes that individuals and organisations rooted in communities are best placed to help provide meaningful support to those suffering, and to naming and addressing the systemic causes that put people from their communities at risk.
Breaking the cycle through frontline networks in source countries
Flowing from our person-centred approach, Arise is committed to developing sustainable local solutions. So we develop alliances with individuals and organisations which reflect our values, which are running locally led, and - preferably - locally founded projects, and, crucially, are strongly networked. We call these groups ‘frontline’. We believe that this approach promotes greater local ownership amongst beneficiary communities, which improves participation and project durability.