Our supporters helped us change the lives of over 81,000 people affected by slavery last year.
Here you can read about some of the important successes from 2017 in the fight to end slavery, and some of the inspiring stories of people who have escaped and are now living free lives.
None of these successes would be possible without our supporters. Every pound donated, petition signed, and message shared on social media helps build the momentum to end slavery forever.
Thank you for changing the world with us.
Forced marriage is slavery
The UN has now officially recognised forced marriage as a form of slavery, a move Anti-Slavery has long campaigned for. Its inclusion in the International Labour Organization‘s (ILO) estimates of people in slavery will increase the pressure on governments and direct more resources to help women and girls around world who are forced to marry.
The ILO estimated that 15.4 million people are in forced marriage, with 40.3 million people in slavery worldwide in total.
More schools for children of slave descent
More children of former slaves in remote areas of Niger were able to attend school. They are the first generation from their community to receive a formal education.
Anti-Slavery initially established six schools for communities of slave descent, to help break the dependency on their masters. The communities now live in freedom and have successfully persuaded the Government to fund their schools and open three new ones.
Before, we had nothing
“Before, we had nothing – a woman could not even talk about having her own money. But then Timidria [Anti-Slavery’s partners] showed us that, with a small loan, we could start our own small business. We use our earnings to cover everyday expenses and can send our children to school.”
Samia*, beneficiary of Anti-Slavery’s microloan programme (*not her real name)
Boys benefit from real care
“We’re well-treated in our school – the teacher doesn’t hit anyone here, and since the project began, he has been asking the older boys to protect the younger ones. We’ve started learning French with our teacher, and our ‘school mothers’ are bringing us food to eat. We feel better here.”
Oumar* attends a Koranic school in Senegal, where thanks to Anti-Slavery’s project children are no longer forced to beg. (*not his real name)
“From a very young age, I lived with a family as a slave. When other children went to school, I spent all my time working. I pounded grain in a pestle and mortar, washed clothes and cooked meals. I was often beaten and insulted for any reason. Since I have been with SOS-Esclaves [Anti-Slavery’s partners] I have received encouragement and support. They help me forget the suffering I went through. Now I am earning a living, and trying to track down my mother, who I haven’t seen since I was very young and can’t remember her face.”
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Asia and the Middle East
Qatar commits to reforms
Under pressure from campaigners, Qatar has committed to labour law reforms for migrant workers, including a minimum wage and the right
for workers to organise and leave the country if they wish.
Although positive, the reforms won’t change the ‘kafala’ system that gives employers control over workers’ visas, enabling exploitation.
Anti-Slavery was the first to expose this issue, prompting an investigation by the Guardian newspaper.
India ratifies conventions to protect children
In a move that Anti-Slavery campaigned for, India ratified two international treaties on the worst forms of child labour and on the minimum age of work. This means the Government will have to ensure that all children under fourteen are not working, and that no child is working in hazardous industries.
The move will make it easier to hold India to account on ending widespread child exploitation.
Phone line to freedom
Kallu was able to escape debt bondage with his family, after spending two years in abject conditions working at a kiln for almost no wages. “I was afraid to complain because the kiln owner made threats towards me and my two young daughters”. Kallu called the helpline run by Anti-Slavery’s partners: Volunteers for Social Justice. They took up the case, eventually winning compensation. “Finally our debt was lifted and we could return home. We were even paid for the whole two years that we had worked.”
Cotton Crimes – signs of change
The Government of Uzbekistan acknowledged the existence of forced labour in its cotton industry and recalled thousands of workers back from the fields.
This unprecedented move potentially signals reforms to a system that forces over 1 million Uzbek citizens into the fields every year and harshly punishes any dissent.
In March 2017, hundreds of Anti-Slavery supporters successfully campaigned to free Uzbek activist, Elena Urlaeva, from detention in a psychiatric institution.
Landmark European Court victory
Thanks to Anti-Slavery’s intervention, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece failed to protect people from trafficking.
In an infamous case, a group of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers were shot at by guards, and the Greek court acquitted the perpetrators, but this landmark verdict reiterates European states’ obligations to tackle trafficking.
UK improves victim care
Responding to Anti-Slavery’s campaigning, the UK Home Office announced reforms to the system of support for victims of slavery, including separating victim identification from the immigration system and modestly extending the length of guaranteed support from 45 to 90 days.
Although positive, the changes fall short of creating the comprehensive long-term support system we are calling for, which would allow survivors to rebuild their lives. In 2018 Anti-Slavery will be putting pressure on the Government to improve protections for victims of slavery in the UK.
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IKEA withdraws from Turkmenistan
After Anti-Slavery International’s intervention, Swedish furniture giant IKEA revealed it would stop sourcing cotton from Turkmenistan.
One of the world’s most oppressive regimes, Turkmenistan operates a system of forced labour to produce cotton, its major export product, ruthlessly cracking down on activists.
After Anti-Slavery’s involvement, IKEA agreed that continuing its presence would mean condoning human rights abuses in the country.
Corporates take action
The corporate world is making more efforts to tackle slavery in supply chains.
Last year Anti-Slavery entered a strategic partnership with online clothing giant ASOS to help improve its ‘on the ground’ practices preventing exploitation. Legal & General, the financial services company, incorporated our advice in its updated child protection policy.
We also successfully campaigned for the European Parliament to pass a resolution calling for legally binding measures on global supply chains.
Help us achieve even more in 2018
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