Prevention: essential but complex

Confronting the causes of contemporary slavery is a daunting task. Some find themselves vulnerable to exploitations because they are poor or lack social protection. Some are exposed to unscrupulous profiteers who prey upon their hope for opportunity. Some live where there is criminal impunity; and some in places where unrestrained market forces have imposed upon them generations of labour exploitation, to name just a few. The drivers of slavery encompass all the big questions of government and economic development. Effective slavery prevention therefore requires a multi-faceted effort from grassroots volunteers right through to the decrees of international institutions.

Prevention is under-resourced

Unfortunately, prevention of slavery remains inadequately researched and under-invested. In 2010, the United Nations Secretary General called for a more comprehensive approach to prevention:

‘While States have carried out educational programmes, awareness-raising campaigns and other initiatives, there is a need to reinforce efforts and resources in the area of prevention. Political commitment at all levels to eliminate trafficking in women and girls is critical. Prevention efforts must be systematic and sustained, and address the root causes and factors that put women and girls at risk…’ (UN Secretary General, 2010, Para 55)

These sentiments echo those of UNICEF, lamenting the lack of preventative strategy in Eastern Europe as long ago as 2005:

‘Very few of the actors involved in anti-trafficking activities are addressing the root causes of trafficking in an empowering way. Regarding Albania and Eastern Europe: There is no comprehensive long- term prevention strategy for the region, nor any clear understanding of what such a strategy should include.’ (UNICEF, 2005, p. xiii)

Arise and prevention

Prevention is a thread running through all our alliances. We see prevention as the neglected ‘P’ in the four-pillar paradigm of anti-slavery work (prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership).

While prevention is often the “hardest to measure” (US State Dept, 2016, p.7) we cannot be content merely to address the consequences of slavery. For this reason, Arise is committed to investing in prevention work and contributing to academic literature to improve our understanding of what works.

For us, prevention work comprises:

a.   awareness raising,

b.   provision of education, training and materials,

c.   provision of viable alternative opportunities to those at risk,

d.   advocacy (the whole spectrum from mass media to political lobbying), and

e.   protection work aimed at ending re-trafficking.