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The new Work in Freedom programme will protect those at risk of being trafficked for domestic work or garment-making in South Asia
At an event on 15 July, UK Government and the International Labour Organisation announced a new Work in Freedom project to help prevent 100,000 girls and women across South Asia from falling victim to the worst forms of labour trafficking.
The two day event at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine aims to build partnerships between private sector, governments and civil society to take action on labour trafficking.
Every year millions of men and women from poor communities across South Asia migrate to find employment so they can send money home to support their families. But many end-up being deceived and trafficked into jobs with extremely low wages or don’t get paid at all. Their movement is restricted, their living and working conditions are very poor and they often suffer threats and abuse.
DFID Bangladesh Country Representative Sarah Cooke said, ‘Income earned from migrant workers abroad and sent back home provides a vital source of support to families in Bangladesh. Women who want to migrate for work to lift themselves and their families out of poverty should be able to do so safely and securely. The Work in Freedom initiative will provide women with practical support and advice so that they can earn a living and avoid the dangers of trafficking.”
Srinivas B Reddy, ILO Country Director, Bangladesh said:”This programme will enhance Work in Freedom by improving skills and employability of women and girls. It will prevent them from being tricked into trafficking and staying trapped in exploitative situations.”
The programme will help tackle known labour trafficking routes from South Asia, including Bangladesh, to the Gulf States. It aims to:
- Help crack down on the unscrupulous recruitment agents that contribute to this modern day slavery.
- Prevent child labour by helping girls stay in school.
- Provide women at risk of trafficking with training, information and support so they can protect themselves from abuse and migrate safely.
- Work with trade unions, big brand employers, local factories, lawmakers and mobile phone companies to create an environment where girls and women can work free of fear and violence.
- Deliver skills training for domestic workers to help them secure a legal contract and decent wage.
- Help women access support groups and help lines through their mobile phones and develop partnerships with mobile phone operators to provide toll-free help lines.
- Train police and government officials to identify labour trafficking and help victims.
Notes to editors
Key messages of the events are as below;
Girls and women living in poverty often fall prey to dishonest recruitment agents and end up paying extortionate ‘recruitment fees’ only to find themselves trapped in jobs far away from home, working with no payment or means of escape and often facing threats and abuse.
- Trafficking of girls and women for forced garment or domestic work is a form of modern day slavery.
- There are 21 million people who are trafficked and in forced labour worldwide – over half of this is in South Asia.
- Girls are particularly vulnerable to child trafficking for domestic work, where they may be physically or sexually abused behind closed doors.
- While most international efforts have focused on sex trafficking, labour trafficking which is far more common has been neglected.
- Investing in girls and women is the smart thing to do, as well as the right thing. By having the freedom to work safely, women lift themselves, their families and countries out of poverty.
- From governments and business through to consumers, we all have a part to play in ending this exploitation.
- The UK Government through the Department for International Development is investing £9.75 million over five years into the Work in Freedom initiative
- End Slavery Now campaign
- Anti-Slavery – what you can do
- Amnesty International on modern slavery
- Guide on spotting signs which may indicate that someone is a trafficking victim and advises what to do if they are
- MTV Exit
- CNN Freedom Project
- The Guardian’s Modern day slavery in focus
- The Guardian’s Modern-day slavery hub from Global Development Professionals
- Directory for ethical fashion
- Buy Fairtrade