Written by Oliver Mitchell
When 20 year old Sujita sought the services of a work placement agency in the Indian capital of New Delhi, she had no idea of the gruelling domestic work that she would be forced to undertake at the house of the businessman, Hemant Rathi. Two and a half years later a concerned local resident finally recognised Sujita as a victim of domestic servitude and notified the human rights organisation Shakti Vahini, who aided in her rescue.1
Could Sujita’s traumatic experience have been avoided? Could she have been rescued earlier?
The Global Modern Slavery Directory (the ‘Directory’) seeks to radically transform how these questions are answered by changing the way Sujita and the millions of modern slavery victims like her are provided assistance. Just as a person’s arms and legs must move in unison to run, the world’s response to modern slavery must also be a highly coordinated affair. The Directory achieves this by serving as a neural hub between service providers, policy makers, donors and academics in order to better facilitate a united movement against modern slavery.
The Directory is a global database of over 770 verified organisations and hotlines from 120 countries (565 global organisations and 205 US national organisations). It works to encourage greater coordination amongst organisations so that victims are provided with faster and more effective services. The Directory fosters trans-organisational efforts by offering the means through which service providers can communicate, raise awareness, and overcome international and bureaucratic barriers together.
One of the most significant problems that any response to modern slavery faces is the challenge of providing, or even identifying, the appropriate support frameworks available for potential and actual victims. In the case of Sujita, neither the local residents nor the organisation that placed her in the house of Hemant Rathi were able to foresee the peril that awaited her. Indeed, victims of modern slavery are often the most vulnerable members of society and fall outside traditional protection services. Children with poor literacy, migrants who do not speak the native language and young girls from disadvantaged, rural communities all represent the kinds of people most at risk.
The Directory moves to help these and countless other victims by synthesising the details of participating organisations into a nuanced and centralised network of information. By creating a fingerprint-like impression of each organisation, the Directory offers the public and service providers with a greater level of knowledge about the sorts of issues that exist in their neighbouring areas. Information such as the types of languages spoken or whether the organisation works with child slavery, commercial sexual exploitation or some other form of modern slavery enables first-responders and service providers to react at swifter and more efficient rates. If Sujita’s placement agency and Shakti Vahini had had the opportunity to enter into dialogue with one another at an earlier time then Sujita might not have been subjected to domestic servitude for two and a half years.
The Directory’s broader inclusion of up-to-date contact information, the number and nature of services available, and funding details (be that sources, reports, or how-to-donate info) all come together to further close this gap in the world’s response to modern slavery. Indeed, this also means that the Directory stands out as a powerful research tool for academics and policy makers to gain a clearer picture of the issues they face.