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Jul 2, 2020

In Episode 5 of Series 5 of The Rights Track, Todd is talking with Ravi Prakash and Phil Northall. Ravi is a consultant for the Freedom Fund’s new Rajasthan ‘hotspot’, which is an approach used to carry out work on specific geographic areas with a high prevalence of modern slavery. He is a child rights specialist with experience working on issues such as child protection and right to education. Phil works as part of the University of Nottingham Rights Lab's Communities and Society Programme to understand and advance local responses to modern slavery. This includes work to build a slavery-resilient cities index to help us better understand how communities become slavery-free and slavery-proof. Together with Todd they discuss the connections between the UN Sustainable Goals SDG 8.7 on tackling modern slavery and SDG 11 on creating sustainable cities.

00.00 – 06.29

Phil begins by outlining a model of a resilient city. The model is adapted from the original work of Hollings and then Hollings in collaboration with others. Described as  an adaptive cycle of reslience. It combines the ability to recover from incidents of slavery with reducing/removing vulnerability to slavery going forward.

Four stages of the model are described:

  • Diagnosis of a problem and identifying “assets” for resilience
  • Challenge - using survivor voices 
  • Engaging with key institutions (media and business) for change
  • Evaluation, review and re-assess

 “Assets” are defined as: 

  • Bringing together police, local authorities and charities in partnerships to share resources information and ideas on best practice
  • Survivor support systems (especially availability of safe accommodation)

The aim is to develop a regional resilience map for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Recent experience in sharing the model in Brazil showed that the challenge of getting agencies to work together is the same although the cultures are different.

06.29 – 13.55

Ravi talks about the Jaipur Child Labour Free Initiative,.

He explains that large numbers of children are involved in forced labour. Many are trafficked from marginalised communities in Bihar state by powerful members of their own community and taken to employers in Jaipur.

  • They are trapped in a form of bonded labour cut off from their families and living in poor conditions. Others are local and return home daily
  • Laws to protect child rights are ignored
  • Very little money finds its way back to the families
  • Once in the system the children “disappear” families find it hard to contact them

The project involves the effective collaboration of a wide range of partners including local businesses, the judiciary, and child victims with the aim of changing existing practices using child labour.

The project has achieved notable successes including five child labour convictions.

13.55 – 15.44

Ravi goes onto explain that strong links exist between civil society, prosecutors and state/national government.

  • Co-operation between agencies and Bihar state government resulted in rescued children gaining documentation and access to rehabilitation packages
  • The Police Centre for Child  Protection is a strategic partner of the programme
  • State government is fully engaged with the programme

15.44 – 17.20

Phil compares the Jaipur initiative to his model and finds a large degree of match on all four levels, especially:

  • Co-operation between stakeholders
  • Engagement with judiciary/police
  • Re-training of survivors
  • Steps to minimise re-exploitation

17.20 – 19.40

Education is a key entitlement for the children and a key focus of the project.

For trafficked children from Bihar:

  • 60% of returning children have returned to education
  • There is increased protection from traffickers who live close by
  • Less than 2% of children are now being trafficked
  • Increasing numbers are receiving state compensation

For local children in Jaipur the twin objectives are:

  • Returning children to education
  • Ensuring freedom from threats from within their communities

19.40 – 24.20

Phil makes the point that SDG 11 focuses on environmental and economic resilience in cities. He suggests more focus is needed on social issues and references the work of colleague Alison Gardner on the social determinants of community resilience.

He argues that building adaptive resilience cycles helps to keep policy windows open long after an event has occurred.

Ravi argues that building sustainability and resilience is not a top down process.

In Jaipur the key areas are:

  • Equal access to education
  • Working with the poor in slum areas on empowering the local communities to articulate their problems and seek their solutions
  • Bringing together local authorities, planners, community organisations to focus on the problems
  • Engagement with local businesses to review supply chains to remove child labour

24.20- end

Ravi makes some final points about the impact of the COVID pandemic on the work of the Freedom Fund in India. He says:

  • It has interrupted the prosecution of those involved in trafficking
  • It has provided unscrupulous employers with the opportunity to return children to source villages to escape prosecution
  • Other employers have thrown children on the street.
  • The high number of COVID cases has diverted attention away from child labour issues

However, the project is working with Bihar government who are sharing data on all returning children to find proof of forced or bonded labour and to build a list of traffickers and employers of children for future prosecution.

The project is also monitoring road and rail transport to try to intercept and return trafficked children to their villages.

Further Reading