The 13 year old girl reluctantly crawled out from under the bed and took the extended hand of the police officer. She joined 9 other girls in a tight hallway and quickly moved out the side door of the brothel in what she would later understand was a police raid.
“It is illegal for you to hold this man as a bonded labourer. By law they are free to go.” The poor man stood beside his defender and together they confronted the land owner. Eight years earlier the man had taken a loan to pay for antibiotics that saved his young son’s life. He and his wife along with their four children had been working off the debt equivalent to $14 Canadian ever since.
The movement of people out of slavery begins with liberation. In countries where rule of law exists and is upheld, police play a dominant role in liberation. They conduct investigations that lead to events like brothel raids, agricultural workers release, identifying and shutting down baby mills and arresting individuals involved in human trafficking. When the rule of law is not enforced or weak – specialized non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) typically fulfill this role and work together with the legal structures in place. Others are liberated by finding a way to escape.
Liberation of enslaved people is dangerous work. People enslaving and exploiting others will go to great lengths to protect the cashflows being generated. They are not afraid to hurt or kill those that oppose them. Our local partner Good Friends of Nepal lost two of their workers in a section of the country where human trafficking is rampant, known as Nepal’s trafficking triangle. Local traffickers became suspicious of their arrival in the community to carry out small business training among the poor and killed them.
The physical removal of a person from enslavement is only the first action required to move someone out of slavery. Once a person has been liberated they need to go through a process of rehabilitation. Slavery inflicts severe psychological and emotional damage that is known to alter a person’s understanding of normalcy, identity, self value and worldview. Without proper rehabilitation victims of slavery become the most vulnerable group to be re-trafficked. They are often rejected by their families and communities, have limited skill sets and broken ideas about self and others. Rehabilitation aims to establish a new normalcy and repair the broken mentality created by slavery.
This is often the most challenging and expensive aspect of moving people out of slavery and requires a safe and secure location with qualified counselors, social workers and supporting staff. If done right, rehabilitation leads to transformation and restoration. We get to see people transformed through our rehabilitation programs with our local partners Beginning of Life in Moldova and the Mahima Care Home in India.
After rehabilitation the focus becomes re-integration back into the community or society. This process includes education, literacy and vocational training and ultimately empowering people to become self-sustainable in healthy ways.
The movement of people out of slavery is a process of liberation, rehabilitation and re-integration. Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slave states that on average it costs $400 to liberate, rehabilitate and reintegrate an enslaved person and ensure sustainable freedom. With 27 million slaves in the world today he estimates it will cost $10.8 billion to free them all – 5 times less than what Americans spent on their pets last year.
Ending modern day slavery is possible.
This is part 3 of a 4 part blog series we will look at how people are moved into slavery today, how people can be moved out of slavery, how human trafficking can be prevented and how Canadians can educate themselves and become part of the solution.
You can check out other posts in this series here:
- Human Trafficking: The Movement of People into Slavery (Part 1)
- Human Trafficking: How are People Moved into Slavery? (Part 2)