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Slavery Research Bulletin: 17 August 2020

August 17, 2020

Welcome to the Slavery Research Bulletin, the Freedom Fund’s monthly brief designed to bring you new & compelling research from the global anti-slavery movement.

Effects of covid-19 on human trafficking and child protection

UN Women and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights released a joint report on the effects of covid-19 on child protection and support for survivors of trafficking. Surveying survivors from 40 countries and frontline organisations from 102 countries, the report finds that survivors lack basic support, including access to food and water, safe accommodation and covid-19 testing. Less than one in five frontline organisations regard their national child protection system as currently fully functional.

Needs of returning labour migrants to Bangladesh during covid-19

USAID and Winrock International examine the experience of returning migrants to Bangladesh during covid-19. Of the 155 respondents, 94 percent no longer had enough income to support themselves, and 60 percent did not have enough daily food to eat. Of returnees, 86 percent had not received any support since returning, with many at increased risk of exploitation and nearly two-thirds planning to re-migrate.

Progress and gaps in labour rights in the Thai fishing industry

The Civil Society Organisation Coalition for Ethical and Sustainable Seafood reports on improvements to worker’s rights in the Thai fishing sector. Based on surveys of 475 migrants on fishing vessels, workers were found to have better access to regular wage payment and paid sick leave, compared to a 2018 baseline study. However, workers still face issues in securing basic rights, including 85 percent of workers who do not have access to their contract and remain vulnerable in their employment relations.

Attacks on garment worker unions during covid-19

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre highlights the crackdown on trade unions and workers’ rights by garment factories during covid-19. Through case studies of nine suppliers in Cambodia, Myanmar, India and Bangladesh who produce for global brands, the report documents targeted dismissals of labour rights activists and unionised workers under the guise of the pandemic. Of the nine alleged cases of union busting, six remain unresolved and nearly 5,000 dismissed workers are left without income or recourse.

Protecting human rights in food supply chains

Oxfam discusses the opportunities during covid-19 to drive structural reform of food supply chains to end exploitation and provide equitable employment, as vital food workers are often treated as expendable and live below the poverty line. The pandemic is an opportunity for the industry to recognise that the vulnerabilities faced by people who produce the food could result in supply chain disruptions and, in turn, affect business continuity.

Read on…

  • A report on the conflicts of multi-stakeholder initiatives in advancing corporate commitment on human rights and enforcing against non-compliance.
  • Save the Children briefs on covid-19 and the disruption to education, with an estimated 1.6 billion children now out of school due to the pandemic.
  • Watch the Freedom Fund’s recent webinar on how anti-trafficking funders can support greater survivor leadership and meaningful inclusion.

And finally…

Since April, the Freedom Fund has distributed $1.4 million in covid-19 emergency relief to 130 frontline organisations in Ethiopia, India, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. Watch our video for more information here.

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For more news and updates about the Freedom Fund, visit our Newsroom. You can also view archived issues of our bulletin here.

Written by
Nuri Weitzman