Solving modern slavery: looking into the future

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Anti-Slavery CEO, Jasmine O’Connor, takes us through some of the key issues affecting the anti-slavery movement today.

We are looking towards a slavery-free future. Photo by LucidSurf

6 January 2020

We are working on a new organisational strategy, targeting key issues faced by the modern anti-slavery movement. Here are the six key challenges I believe will play a major part in our work in the coming decade.

1. Migration and climate change

With progressing globalisation and climate change, more and more people leave their native homes to seek a better future for themselves and their families. They face big challenges. At their destination, they are often treated as second class citizens; many can’t work legally or have no right to legally leave their employers, even in abusive situations. Many migrants don’t speak the language and have no one to turn to for support. All this makes them perfect targets for traffickers. We need to change the way countries treat migrants to make them less vulnerable to slavery.

2. Politics of populism

Slavery is built on racism and prejudice that undermine people’s humanity through discrimination based on their race, immigration status, religion, caste, age or gender. Coupled with poverty and laws that don’t protect those discriminated against, it makes the perfect conditions for exploiters to take advantage of. We must call out every form of discrimination and work together to build communities and nations that treat all humans with dignity and respect.

3. Global supply chains

Adults and children are trapped and exploited in the system working to sell products across the world. We as consumers have a right to be assured that the products we buy are not tainted by slavery, and businesses are responsible for ensuring that people are not exploited in their supply chains. We are encouraged by many companies already taking the initiative to do this and we work with many of them to support their anti-slavery efforts. We will continue to campaign to introduce and strengthen laws that would legally oblige businesses to ensure that the rights of the workers are protected.

4. Power to survivors

When people are trapped in slavery, their power is taken away from them. Anti-Slavery has been working to reverse that. When people with lived experience of slavery take the centre stage and lead the movement against slavery, we build solutions that are fully informed by their voices. We must work together to enable the survivors of slavery to reclaim the power they lost as a result of their enslavement and ensure that their voices influence anti-slavery policies.

5. Build futures of freedom

10 million children are thought to be in slavery today. We must invest in making sure that children don’t fall victim to traffickers and don’t get trapped in a cycle of poverty and exploitation as they become adults. Anti-Slavery is working to build their confidence and capacity to live their lives in freedom and contribute to the anti-slavery movement to bring that freedom to others.

6. Build the anti-slavery movement

We believe that the most crucial element of our quest to end slavery worldwide is building a widespread movement of people, organisations, businesses and institutions that would work together towards this common goal. We want everyone to join this movement and reinforce a message that today, in the 21st century, slavery is unacceptable in any form. We want this movement to exert pressure on key people and organisations who have the power to end the exploitation of adults and children.

We welcome hearing from supporters about your views on this article and how you’re helping to further the anti-slavery movement where you live. Please email your thoughts to