Interventions to support victims of modern slavery

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Helpdesk Query:

What evidence is there, from academic or other sources, about effective and ineffective interventions to provide support for victims of modern slavery?

Summary:

This review found few evaluations of interventions to support victims of modern slavery, even though there is recognition of the need for support services. While there is little evidence on effectiveness of interventions, the literature highlights the importance of victim-centred, holistic (multi-disciplinary) approaches to supporting victims. There is strong consensus in the literature on the importance of providing support to victims of modern slavery (University of Liverpool, 2017; Robjant, 2016; Sun-Suon, nd).

Many will have experienced physical violence, psychological abuse and even sexual abuse. The conditions they suffer from can include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, physical ill-health and malnourishment.

Mental health issues are particularly significant, especially in children. ‘Even if the physical wounds have been healed, it is still a long process to help the victims regain their dignity and the confidence to make choices and move forward with their lives. It is therefore crucial …to ensure that the rights, needs and requests of the victims are recognised’ (Sun-Suon, nd: 26). In the absence of suitable support, victims are at heightened risk of becoming slaves again/being re-trafficked (University of Liverpool, 2017).

This review drew on a mixture of academic and grey literature. Significant information was found on provision of services (or lack of it) to survivors of modern slavery in the UK (as well as some other developed countries), but far less on developing countries. Some of the literature made specific reference to the needs of women, but much was gender-blind or focused on the needs of men. Nothing was found from the perspective of persons with disabilities.

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