The concept of modern slavery covers many forms of abuse. In addition to customary understandings of slavery, the term has been used to describe unfree practices including: servitude and forced or compulsory labour; sexual exploitation; organ removal; securing services by force, threats or deception; and securing services from children and vulnerable persons.
The relationship between forced migration and modern slavery is frequently assumed, yet rarely examined. We note that the dislocation of people during periods of conflict, political upheaval, organised violence and as a result of targeted policies and campaigns often gives rise to conditions which foster vulnerability and encourage extreme exploitation. Equally, we note that the creation of exploitative conditions which deny people the opportunity to establish secure livelihoods may encourage outflows, giving rise to situations of what Alexander Betts has termed, ‘survival migration’.
Yet, displacement is not a necessary condition for modern slavery like practices. Millions of displaced people may seek refugee protection without experiencing extreme exploitation or other abuses associated with modern slavery. Equally, the prevalence unfree and unfair labour practices does not require victims to be mobile. Throughout the world people may endure conditions of modern slavery without ever having migrated.
While forced migration and modern slavery are ontologically distinct, all too often situations of forced displacement and extreme exploitation are the product of weak political systems where in the absence of effective governance or as the result of corrupt systems people’s rights to state protection from expulsion and abuse are endangered.
For example, we note that the deliberate deprivation of nationality of the Rohingya enabled their persecution and eventual expulsion from Myanmar which in turn has given rise to situations where forced migrants have been drawn into forced and bonded labour in receiving states.
In other contexts, where state systems have collapsed or been destroyed through war and corrupt practices, refugees have been propelled into situations which have only heightened their vulnerability in the informal sector. We note how for example in Greece and elsewhere in Southeastern Europe refugee children and young adults from Syria have been coerced into organised crime and the selling of sex as a means of survival. Journeys, initiated in search of safety have culminated in despair, destitution, and abuse.
This special issue seeks to explore the relationship between forced displacement and modern slavery, understood broadly. Articles may focus on the following suggested themes:
- Adoption trafficking
- Displacement in Central America and exploitation along the ‘vertical border’
- Fear of deportation and recruitment into exploitative work in the USA
- Forced labour among refugees and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean
- Labour exploitation among recent refugees and Palestinians in the Middle East
- Modern slavery, dangerous work in construction and agriculture in Libya
- New realities: modern slavery in Syria and neighbouring host states
- Offshoring, humanitarian protection, and extreme exploitation in remote locations
- Precarious journeys and exploitation in refugee camps and collective centres
- Race, caste, and class: displacement and exploitation in South Asia
- State collapse and modern slavery
- The Rohingya - stateless refugees and unwelcome guests
- The Venezuela crisis
Articles should be 4,000-7,500 words
Submission guidelines available at: https://slavefreetoday.org/authors/