Actionable, Cost-Effective Prevalence Measurement to End Modern Slavery

GFEMS article published in Delta 8.7: “New and better estimates of the scale of modern slavery at the global level have helped galvanize global commitment to end this scourge. But for the global anti-slavery field to move from commitments to effective interventions and investments, data must be even more precise. Data that highlights the prevalence of slavery within specific sectors and geographies can help interventions target the most vulnerable populations and make the case for private sector action against specific supply chain risks. It can also help shed light on which anti-slavery interventions work.

Organizations engaged in the global fight against trafficking have increased efforts to measure prevalence of slavery within specific industries and geographies, drawing on innovations to address the intrinsic challenges of measuring hidden populations. An early example is the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking’s use of the sentinel surveillance methodology—using interviews with randomized samples of victims and migrants in key hotspots—in 2010 to study prevalence of human trafficking among Cambodian migrants deported from Thailand. More recently, International Justice Mission (IJM) and its partners conducted a series of sector and sub-national studies, including a 2016 study of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Mumbai. These studies used respondent-driven sampling (RDS)—a type of snowball sampling that is used to analyse hidden populations—and time-space sampling—a venue-based method that identifies likely hotspots, randomly selects a date and time and asks members of the target population to participate in the research. The Freedom Fund and its partners, including Institute of Development Studies and Praxis in a 2017 baseline study, have also deployed participatory statistics and social mapping in research in Northern India.

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Sara Beatty