With tens of millions of individuals victimized by traffickers and slaveholders, the world urgently needs solutions that can be effectively and efficiently implemented at-scale in a wide variety of situations.
I was happy to see that many of my colleagues in India’s human rights community were eager to hear how the Free the Slaves Community Liberation Initiative is designed to meet this global challenge.
I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker during my recent trip to India at a seminar on “Modern Slavery and Access to Justice” hosted by the New Delhi based Institute of Social Sciences. The institute, founded in 1985, is a prestigious policy analysis and research organization. Motivated by the urgency of intertwining participatory democracy with development, the institute’s research, advocacy, seminars, workshops and monitoring of government policies have received considerable acclaim nationally and internationally. I had the honor of being welcomed and introduced by Dr. George Mathew, the institute’s founder and chair.
The seminar was attended by 45 representatives of organizations engaged in the fight against human trafficking in India. This allowed for a rich and well-informed discussion of the most important issues, including the opportunities and barriers to advancing the struggle against bonded labor and sexual slavery in India. Other speakers included representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, UNWOMEN, International Justice Mission, South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center, MSEMVS and the Pathy Foundation. My Asia-based FTS colleagues – James Aputharaj Williams, John Whan Yoon, Kim Misao, Tsering Diskit – also participated in the seminar. It was gratifying to be in an assembly of highly dedicated and skilled professionals pursuing a shared goal.
My remarks were focused on outlining and meeting the major challenges facing the anti-slavery movement. While considerable progress has been made in defining strategies for fighting slavery, I argued that the anti-slavery movement must now focus on bringing solutions to scale, preventing displacement of slaves from one sector or place to another, and sustaining and growing the political support needed for the long term.
I presented the Free the Slaves Community Liberation Initiative as a strategy for success. The initiative is aimed at achieving scale through high-impact partnerships that integrate anti-slavery interventions into the substantial infrastructure created by major international development organizations and agencies. The holistic approach in the Free the Slaves Community Liberation Model eradicates all forms of slavery in a community by getting at the root causes that yield multiple forms of extreme exploitation. Coalition-building through partnership with other nonprofits and businesses, which is intrinsic to our initiative, is the path to sustaining and growing government support.
I look forward to continued collaboration with the Institute of Social Sciences.