Anti-Slavery International

Founded in 1839, we are the oldest international human rights organisation in the world. Our vision is a world free from slavery. Our mission is to work directly and indirectly with beneficiaries and stakeholders from a grassroots to an international level to eradicate slavery and its causes from the world. We deal with the root causes of slavery and its consequences to achieve sustainable change.

Anti-Slavery’s strategic priority is to ensure significant progress towards slavery eradication in at least 10 countries by 2020 through working with beneficiaries and stakeholders from grassroots to international level to address slavery and its causes.

Our key objectives are to:

  • secure the responsiveness and accountability of duty bearers;
  • empower people affected by slavery to claim their rights;

achieve rejection of the social norms and attitudes perpetuating slavery.

Countries in which Anti-Slavery International works:

India: Bonded labour and child labour, Brick kilns and agricultural work

  • Debt Bondage - Brick kilns in India employ more than 23 million workers, many of which are workers that migrate for work from other states.  When these workers are not working in kilns, they are often working in agricultural fields. Slavery practices in both of these sectors are endemic, with many families falling victim to debt-bondage. This often means their children also work and cannot attend school. Together with our local partners, we try to address the causes of these slavery practices in an holistic and systemic way by working both in villages from the source state where migrant families originate and in the destination state, where the worksites are located.
  • Domestic Workers - It is estimated that there are over four million domestic workers in India. They remain part of an informal and unregulated sector, obscured in private homes, not recognised as workers but rather as ‘informal help’. Their wages are, on average, only a third of those in other sectors, they have very limited social protections, and commonly suffer poor working conditions, exploitation, abuse and slavery. We work to tackle exploitation and slavery of domestic workers who migrate within India, work in six Indian states to reduce the vulnerability of workers to exploitation and abuse, and support workers to organise, support each other and individually and collectively stand up for their rights. We have delivered training sessions on labour rights, safe migration, women’s rights benefiting thousands of migrant domestic workers.

Bangladesh: Because of the lack of opportunities for decent jobs in Bangladesh, many women migrate to work as domestic workers in the Middle East, with Lebanon being one of the top destinations. A large number of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon experience exploitation and abuse. Many live in conditions often amounting to slavery. Their passports are routinely confiscated, and the ‘kafala’ sponsorship system makes their legal status dependent on their employers.

As part of the ILO Work in Freedom Project, we work with our local partners KAFA in Lebanon and OKUP in Bangladesh to address the vulnerability of Bangladeshi women to trafficking.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan: We have worked to end forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry for nearly a decade under the banner of our Cotton Crimes campaign. Recently we extended our work to Turkmenistan, which uses similar practices.

Vietnam: We are undertaking research that maps the risks and vulnerabilities associated with human trafficking beginning in Vietnam and ending in the destination country of the UK. We are working with partners ECPAT UK and Pacific Links Foundation to increase the knowledge of trafficking risks and prevention in Vietnam’s general population and among particularly vulnerable groups.

Mauritania: Mauritania is one of the last countries in the world where people are still born into slavery and literally owned by other people, facing a lifetime of abuse and forced labour. Alongside our local partner SOS-Esclaves we help people escape from slavery and rebuild their lives as free people. We provide initial financial support and shelter, help into longer term vocational training and microloans so they can become financially independent, and support in releasing family members who are still in slavery. We also work to expand and train the network of SOS-Esclaves’ members based across the country, so they can support people escaping slavery in their local areas more effectively. Moreover, we offer legal assistance to prosecute former masters. Taking cases to courts is very challenging. Although slavery was criminalised in 2007, the slave-owning classes still dominate the judiciary and the police. Delays and failures to follow due process are very common.

Tanzania: Anti-Slavery International has led efforts to improve the lives of children in domestic work across the world for many years. Our last innovative five-year project across six countries, including Tanzania, focused on empowering children in advocating for their own rights and was a resounding success – child domestic workers progressed from isolation, where they had no voice, to making their voices heard and acted upon.

One of our biggest successes was in Tanzania where several new groups, led by child domestic workers themselves, formed and joined a 27 member Tanzania Domestic Worker Coalition to press for changes on a national level.

Niger: In Niger, communities of slave-descent, also referred to as black Tamacheqs (after the language spoken by the Touareg ethnic group) are among the most marginalised communities of Niger. This marginalisation takes a range of forms including enslavement, physical and sexual abuse, land eviction and systemic discrimination in accessing basic services such as education or health care.

Our work in Niger has focused on providing a quality education and a range of awareness and training activities to adults and children in these communities.

Senegal: One of the most prevalent forms of slavery in Senegal takes the form of forced child begging in Koranic schools. Across Senegal, boys known as ‘talibés’ are sent out to beg on the streets by their teachers at Koranic schools called ‘daaras’.Most daaras do not charge the students for their studies, food or accommodation.  Instead, the teachers force the children to beg for their keep. They must work for long hours and hand over their income. Children who are forced to beg are commonly beaten if they fail to meet their begging quotas or suffer abuse from individuals they encounter as they beg. Working alongside two local partner organisations Tostan and RADDHO, our three-pronged approach aims to tackle child begging through the modernisation of daaras, child protection and access to a regular school curriculum.

 

Reports

Poverty, Discrimination and Slavery (2008)

Joint submission for the Universal Periodic Review of India (2017)

 

Contacts

Aidan McQuade – Director a.mcquade@antislavery.org

 

Val Floy – Chief Operating Officer v.floy@antislavery.org

 

Debbie McGrath – Head of Programme and Advocacy d.mcgrath@antislavery.org

 

Ryna Sherazi – Head of Funding and Communications r.sherazi@antislavery.org  

 

For more information visit the website