Solutions to ending slavery and human trafficking
Poverty and lack of economic options, particularly for women, are root causes of trafficking and slavery, cited in almost every published study (Free the Slaves, UNODC, ILO, etc.) Even when people are rescued from slavery, they struggle to reintegrate due to social stigma, a lack of job skills, and few or no job opportunities. Thus the survivors, and ultimately their children, are highly vulnerable to being re-trafficked, or to falling into other exploitative situations. Women and youth at the highest risk for being trafficked (such as youth growing up in red light areas or refugee camps) also need sustainable income and education, which increases their status in the family and provides a realistic alternative to slavery and exploitation
Made By Survivors creates job training and sustainable employment programs at shelters worldwide. We also partner with world-renowned shelters such as Maiti Nepal, Rescue Foundation, and AFESIP to support and provide business development help to their existing income generation programs for survivors. Over the past six years, we have created a network of businesses that employ survivors, making Made By Survivors® products that we market in the West, and helping survivors and shelter partners to build their own sustainable businesses.
An Innovative and Rights-Based Approach
Made By Survivors’ employment programs have been very successful in employing survivors and helping them make the transition to independent living. For the first few years, the majority of survivors in our programs were trained and employed in stitching and embroidery, creating handbags and home décor products. In Feb. 2010 we began adding training in jewelry manufacture and design and metal-smithing. Survivors at three centers in Calcutta and Mumbai are now trained in designing and casting precious and semi-precious metals, as well as advanced wire bending and jewelry manufacturing techniques.
Jewelry making in India has traditionally only been done by men, and by members of specific castes. Our survivors are among the first women in India to train as artisan silversmiths. This is a highly respected and prestigious skill which will help survivors to overcome the stigma of trafficking and forced prostitution.
Sojourner Truth said, ‘I freed a thousand slaves and I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves’. Knowing one’s rights and the laws surrounding labor and exploitation in one’s country, knowing how to read and to understand a contract: these are powerful tools which can protect a person from falling victim to trafficking. All of our employment programs offer a rights-based approach, in which we teach survivors to know their rights, to know that trafficking is illegal, and to value themselves as contributing members of society.
Benefits to Survivors
Participation in our employment and education programs has long term and measurable impact on the survivor and her community. These benefits include improved health outcomes, increased literacy and numeracy, decreased rate of recidivism into slavery or other forms of exploitation, social reintegration, and education for children of survivors.
We see a dramatic change in the behavior and confidence of our survivors as a result of participation. At first they are timid and unwillingly to look you in the eye. After six months they are laughing, speaking out, and maintaining eye contact. After a year, they are solving production problems, and challenging us to match their determination and energy. We see survivors progress from shelter-dependence to total independence. Many of our survivors are remarkable for their courage in rescuing others, spreading awareness of trafficking and slavery, and advocating for the rights of women and girls.