Interventions to combat modern slavery

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Helpdesk Query:

What evidence is there, from academic or other sources, about effective and ineffective interventions to combat modern slavery?

Summary:

This report details findings from evaluations of a range of interventions to combat modern slavery. While there are three broad areas of efforts to tackle modern slavery – prevention, protection and prosecution – the main focus to date has been on prevention and, to a lesser extent, protection; prosecution has received far less attention. The literature indicates that interventions have generally proven to have limited effectiveness.

Various evaluations highlight the need for information campaigns to target specific groups and advocate action rather than simply raising awareness. They also call for protection measures to be targeted, and linked to interventions in health, education, social protection and livelihoods. A number of evaluations suggest that legislation banning trafficking, child labour, etc. can be counterproductive: more stress should be put on improving labour and working conditions.

Modern slavery is very broad-ranging in scope, covering forced and bonded labour, child labour, sex trafficking, human trafficking and so on. Rather than considering interventions under each type of modern slavery, this review categorises interventions into the following:

  • prevention – aimed at raising public awareness of modern slavery and its risks;
  • protection – aimed at empowering victims and helping them rebuild their lives;
  • prosecution – to support implementation of legislation on modern slavery.1

Some programmes are cross-cutting, with interventions focused on two or more categories (of prevention, protection and prosecution). Findings from such cross-cutting programmes are given under the most appropriate category.

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