A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Human Trafficking Solutions


Forced migration and modern slavery: unplanned journeys of exploitation and survival

Response Guest editor: Professor Brad Blitz, UCL Institute of Education

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

Deadline for submission: 15 December 2020

Submission guidelines available HERE


Volume 5, Issue 1

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Can Tech Tame the Outlaw Ocean?

A Book Review of The Outlaw Ocean: Crime and Survival in the Last Untamed Frontier (Author: Ian Urbina) and Film Review of Ghost Fleet (directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron)

Bama Athreya, PhD


Thanks to a series of media and human rights reports, many of us are now aware that vast numbers of young men and boys are lured onto fishing boats and held in slavery at sea—sometimes for years without touching land. Attention to the dramatic extent of crimes at sea spiked a few years ago with incredible journalistic investigations by reporters at the Associated Press, New York Times, and The Guardian as well as continued human rights exposes by Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace and others. Now with the launch of Ian Urbina of the New York Times’ new book, The Outlaw Ocean, and the release in mid-2019 of an important new film on slavery at sea, Ghost Fleet, it’s time not only for renewed attention but a close review of what has been learned through an early round of interventions intended to end slavery at sea.


Fixing the Disjuncture, Inverting the Drift: Decolonizing Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Dr. Runa Lazzarino


As a re-elaboration and reflection on the contributions to an international symposium on human trafficking, this article makes two consecutive steps in modern slavery studies. The first step is a snapshot compilation of the complexity of problems involved in the discourse of human trafficking and modern slavery. I concentrate this discourse under two pillars, disjuncture and drift, which offer images of the often detrimental effects, as well as the equally negative “ineffectiveness”, of many anti-slavery apparatuses. Secondly, this article envisions a walkable avenue for a decolonization of the discourse of human trafficking and modern slavery inasmuch as this discourse has been monopolized by the center (referring to a few powerful countries of the global north).


Journal of Modern Slavery: A Multidisciplinary Exploration of Human Trafficking Solutions, is dedicated to research, theory, and practical application in eradicating slavery. It is a nexus of critical thought for all fields relating to understanding and combating modern slavery and is unique in its focus on the issues of slavery and human trafficking.

The Journal engages academics and practitioners in dialogue between the fields, helping us find common language in work toward our common goal. It includes relevant research papers, review papers, case studies, book reviews and conference reports.

Studies currently published only within the author’s discipline or geographic area, which are widely dispersed and a challenge to track down, are assembled in this forum, to spark further research, invite interdisciplinary dialogue, foster changes in practices, create new university courses and new policy at all levels: locally, nationally, globally.

Our Editorial and Advisory boards are staffed with women and men with a diverse cross-section of professions, disciplines, nationalities and cultures, drawing on academic and field level expertise – they truly are subject matter experts in and worldwide leaders of the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Journal of Modern Slavery is an online-only journal, giving it a worldwide reach and making it much more accessible than legacy journals. Our innovative website provides enhanced technical capabilities, increasing accessibility to our international audience of scholars, practitioners, law enforcement personnel, policy makers, direct service providers, legislators, judges and members of diplomatic corps. Our state-of the-art on-line Editorial Review application streamlines the peer review process and makes it easier for authors to contribute.

Anyone engaged in serious study of human trafficking and all its complexities can have access to timely information.

Interested in authoring an article for an upcoming issue?  CLICK HERE


Urmila Bhoola is a South African human rights lawyer working internationally on issues of women’s human rights, modern slavery, human trafficking and business human rights accountability. She was formerly the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, a mandate she held for six years. She is a former Judge of the Labour Court of South Africa and is currently an acting Judge of the High Court.


Research Unchained:
The Multidisciplinary Future of Antislavery Studies

A Special Issue of the Journal of Modern Slavery in collaboration with
the Antislavery Early Research Project supported by the AHRC Antislavery Usable Past

Volume 4, Issue 2
December 2018

Forward to Research Unchained: Multidisciplinary Future of Antislavery Studies

Dr. Jean Allain and Dr. Kevin Bales


This Special Issue provides us with the possibility to look into the multidisciplinary futures of antislavery studies and to appreciate the contemporary terrain in which early career researchers are seeking to establish and develop their voices. It is not surprising that fresh voices are represented here expressing fresh and challenging ideas.


Introduction by the editors of the Antislavery Usable Past Postgraduate Research Network Special Issue

Katarina Schwarz, Hannah Jeffery, and Rebecca Nelson, PhD candidates


This Special Issue transcends disciplinary boundaries, fuels collaboration, and brings the evolving research of early career scholars to light. It offers a space to hash out debates on definitions; to think about the role of technology in mapping sites of exploitation; to survey and understand the ways in which antislavery messages and strategies can be embedded in legal frameworks, multi-agency partnerships, and children’s literature; and to understand the lineage of slavery and antislavery from the past to the present. Featuring the work of nineteen academics in nine papers, it gives voice to a new wave of antislavery research that connects past, present and future and highlights the important role of research networks at all levels of scholarship.


Part I: Definitions and Legal Justice


Approaching Contemporary Slavery Through an Historic Lens: an Interdisciplinary Perspective

Rebecca Nelson and Alicia Kidd, PhD candidates


This Special Issue transcends disciplinary boundaries, fuels collaboration, and brings the evolving research of early career scholars to light. It offers a space to hash out debates on definitions; to think about the role of technology in mapping sites of exploitation; to survey and understand the ways in which antislavery messages and strategies can be embedded in legal frameworks, multi-agency partnerships, and children’s literature; and to understand the lineage of slavery and antislavery from the past to the present. Featuring the work of nineteen academics in nine papers, it gives voice to a new wave of antislavery research that connects past, present and future and highlights the important role of research networks at all levels of scholarship.


Securing the Prohibition of Labour Exploitation in Law and Practice: Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in Italy, Spain and the UK

Dr. Paola Cavanna, Ana Belén Valverde Cano, PhD candidate, and Amy Weatherburn, PhD candidate


The fight against contemporary forms of slavery is a top priority in the current global agenda. This article reviews and assesses the domestic diversity of labour exploitation regulation. In part 1, the article reviews the concept of labour exploitation in international and European law, whilst part 2 provides an overview of three legal frameworks – Italy, Spain and the UK. A comparative analysis considers the extent to which these countries implement international legal obligations both in law and practice. Finally, the article seeks to promote cross-fertilisation of experiences and dialogue among legal practitioners, both domestically and between different countries.


Strategic Litigation as a Tool to Combat Modern Slavery

James Sinclair, PhD candidate


The legal, political and commercial landscape surrounding modern slavery has developed significantly since 2008. However, the relative weakness of enforcement mechanisms within legislation designed to combat labour exploitation has meant that there have been few meaningful changes to abusive commercial practices. This article explores whether corporate accountability litigation could fill the enforcement void. It looks at the prospects for such litigation in the UK and concludes that there are significant challenges to be overcome. For litigation to be a successful lever of corporate change, it will require jurisprudential developments, extensive resourcing and dedicated, persistent professionals.


Irregular Victims: Investigating the Immigration Status Decisions of Post-NRM Victims of Human Trafficking, the Availability of Eligible Benefits and the Related Impact on Victims of Trafficking

Alexandra Williams-Woods and Yvonne Mellon, PhD candidates


Human trafficking is connected to migration as it often involves crossing international borders. This article argues that by failing to view the issue of human trafficking through the lens of migration, the current framework for assisting victims of human trafficking fails to ensure the protection of the individuals concerned. This article offers an innovative perspective by analysing the specific legal position of victims of human trafficking in the context of UK domestic law and international agreements, and tracing this to survivor experiences. The extent to which non-UK national survivors of human trafficking are able to access the rights that they are entitled to in the UK is explored, as well as what factors influence the accessibility of these rights. Utilising an interdisciplinary approach, encompassing scholarship of law and politics, this article links a review of the current legal landscape relating to immigration status for trafficking victims with empirical work exploring the experiences of non-UK national trafficking survivors.


Reasserting Agency: Procedural Justice, Victim-Centricity, and the Right to Remedy for Survivors of Slavery and Related Exploitation

Katarina Schwarz and Jing Geng, PhD candidates


One of the biggest failings of contemporary regimes governing human exploitation is their treatment of ‘victims’. This paper roots narratives of victimhood and agency in the legal frameworks through analysis of the right to effective remedy in human rights and international law. Dominant characterisations of ‘victimisation’ are problematised and an alternative formulation – the ‘victim-agent’ – proposed in order to recognise agency and its abrogation, advocate for participation consistent with the demands of procedural justice, and contribute to meaningful redress.


Part II: New Anti-Slavery Strategies and Cultures


“A Colossal Work of Art”: Antislavery Methods of Visual Protest From 1845 to Today

Hannah Jeffery, PhD candidate, and Dr. Hannah-Rose Murray

In 1967, the faces of black antislavery figures were woven into the fabric of the urban US environment to showcase radical black narratives and empower segregated black communities. Murals depicting the faces of Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Turner and Ida B. Wells lined the streets alongside visualizations of self-emancipated figures slashing chains and unshackling bodies. Although these 1960s murals visualized subversive antislavery narratives in the streets for the first time, the cultural form of black protest murals was not new. In this paper, we trace the visual lineage of antislavery protest from the nineteenth century panorama to the modern antislavery mural.


‘They don’t play or run or shout…They’re slaves’: The First Survey of Children’s Literature on Modern Slavery

Charlotte James, PhD candidate


This article provides the first survey of children’s literature on modern slavery and analyses the emergence of this movement. Exploring fictional texts and survivor accounts, this article explores how these texts bring modern slavery to children from the news and media. It examines the various trends that emerge from these pieces, including the countries included, types of slavery highlighted, the ages and genders of individuals, and the authors of these texts, survivors or not. It also includes preliminary conclusions about the effectiveness of those texts as educational tools, discussing how these texts highlight signs of slavery and unpack its scale.


Analysing Slavery through Satellite Technology: How Remote Sensing Could Revolutionise Data Collection to Help End Modern Slavery

Bethany Jackson, PhD student, Dr. Kevin Bales, Dr. Sarah Owen, Dr. Jessica Wardlaw, and Dr. Doreen S. Boyd


An estimated 40.3 million people are enslaved globally across a range of industries. Whilst these industries are known, their scale can hinder the fight against slavery. Some industries using slave labour are visible in satellite imagery, including mining, brick kilns, fishing and shrimp farming. Satellite data can provide supplementary details for large scales which cannot be easily gathered on the ground. This paper reviews previous uses of remote sensing in the humanitarian and human rights sectors and demonstrates how Earth Observation as a methodology can be applied to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target 8.7.


Collaborating to Identify, Recover and Support Victims of Modern Slavery

Ben Brewster, PhD candidate


This article presents findings from a series of case studies into the impact of multi-agency anti-slavery partnerships in the UK. The research draws upon empirical evidence from a number of geographic regions as the basis of a comparative analysis involving the full spectrum of statutory and non-statutory organisations that undertake anti-slavery work. The article focuses, in particular, on the role of partnerships in victim identification and support, while simultaneously discussing issues and drawing upon existing discourse associated with policy, legislation and the macro conditions that impose barriers on such efforts.


Volume 4, Issue 1, Summer 2018

The Developments of Trafficking in Women in Post-Revolution Tunisia
by Racha Haffar

Understanding Child Trafficking within Ghana: Stakeholders’ Perspective
Emma Seyram Hamenoo and Efua Esaaba Mantey Agyire-Tettey

An Economist’s Perspective of Kevin Bales’ “Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World”
Jennifer Bossard, Ph.D

Cultural Competence of Western Psychotherapists in Helping Sex Trade Survivors: An Initial Exploration
Daphne Catherine Spyropoulos, B.A.

Civil Society Organisations in Counter-Trafficking Governance: When Long-Standing Interactions Lead to Solid Partnerships
Chloé Brière, PhD, LLM
Julia Muraszkiewicz, PhD, LLM
Amy Weatherburn, LLB, LLM

Volume 3, Issue 1, August 2016

Book Review: Collaborating Against Human Trafficking: Cross Sector Challenges and Practices (Author: Dr. Kirsten Foot)
Reviewed by Eve Aronson, M.A.

Book Review: Enslaved: The New British Slavery (Author: Rahila Gupta)
Reviewed by Amber L. Hulsey, A.B.D. and David L. Butler, Ph.D.

Learning From Incidents to Improve Services: Kenyan Victims’ Reaction to a Migrant Labour Scam in Thailand
Oscar Mmbali, B DIV

Prosecuting Human Trafficking – Progress in the UK
Kate Garbers

The Relationship Between Human Rights Violations and Human Trafficking
Julia Muraszkiewicz, LLM

Listening to Local and Foreign Sex Buyers of Men and Women in Cambodia
Samantha Sommer Miller, MAICS, Glenn Miles, PhD, and James Havey

Measuring Government Responses to Modern Slavery: Vietnam Case Study
Bodean Hedwards, PhD candidate, and Katherine Bryant, M.A.

Thinking Beyond the Escape: Evaluating the Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Uganda
Jillian LaBranche, M.A.

Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2015

Partnership, The Fourth P, Enhances HT Service Efforts in Prevention, Protection and Prosecution Arenas
Thomas B. Hofmann, PhD and Yaroslaba Garcia, MA

Repressed Memories: Historical Perspectives on Trafficking and Anti-Trafficking
Eileen P. Scully, PhD

Criminal Legislation for Human Trafficking in the Republic of Moldova
Nicole Fiorentino, MA

A Model of Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration in Regional Anti-Slavery Efforts
Erica Baer, PhD, Refael Olivares, MA, Johnny McGaha, PhD and Tama Koss Caldarone, JD

Human Trafficking at the US-Mexico Border and the Role of the Commercial Sex Trade Client
Lori Celaya, PhD and Marta Boris-Tarré, PhD

A Quantitative Analysis of Commercial Sex Advertisements During Super Bowl XLVIII
Jesse Bach, PhD, Courtney Mintz, and Jennifer Dohy, MS

Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2015

Trafficking in Human Beings as an Enterprise: Highlighting Key Questions About Data Shortage on the Business Side
Julia Muraszkiewicz, PhD and Dr. Hayley Watson

Rise, Unite, Support: Doing “No Harm” in the Anti-Trafficking Movement
Karen Countryman-Roswurm, LMSW, PhD

Toward Assessment of Child Survivors of Restavèk in Haiti: Development and Evaluation of a Locally Adapted Psychosocial Assessment Instrument
Cara L. Kennedy, PhD

Considering a Regional Approach to Combating Human Trafficking in the Caribbean: The ECOWAS Example
Jill St. George, LLB, LLM, PGDIP (BVC) and Tom Durbin, LLB, LLM, PGDIP (BVC)

Volume 1, Issue 2, July 2014

A Theory of Human Trafficking Prevalence and Forecasting: Unlikely Marriage of the Human Security, Transnational Organized Crime, and Human Trafficking Literatures
Davina Durgana

Human Trafficking Specific Jury Instructions: Tools to Increase Prosecutions and Convictions
Alexander Esseesse and Emily Tocci

Human Trafficking Investigations, Implications of Apathy and Inaction, Recommended Solutions
David Hartless

Funding and Capacity Building Fuel Cooperation: A Case Study of Counter-Force Networks Fighting Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in India
Rodney Green, MSc

Au Pair Scheme: Cultural Exchange or a Pathway to Slavery?
Tina Davis

Human Trafficking NGOs in Thailand: A Two-Site Case Study of the Children Served in Education Programs
Robert Spires, PhD

Economics of Child Mining Labor: Estimation of Corporation’s Profits
Roger-Claude Liwanga, LLM

Book Review: Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery, by Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten
Reviewed by Benjamin Thomas Greer

Volume 1, Issue 1, February 2014

Unlocking the Science of Slavery
Kevin Bales, PhD

Adopting an Anti-human Trafficking Law in the DR Congo: A Significant Step in the Process of Combating Trafficking
Roger-Claude Liwanga, J.D.

Who’s Watching the Watchdog?: Are the Names of Corporations Mandated to Disclose under the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act Subject to a Public Records Request?
Benjamin Thomas Greer, J.D.

A Truly Free State in the Congo: Slavery and Abolition in Global Historical Perspective
John Donoghue

Slavery Beyond History: Contemporary Concepts of Slavery and Slave Redemption in Ganta (Gamo) of Southern Ethiopia
Bosha Bombe, B.A. in History; M.A. in Social Anthropology

Ending Slavery
Aidan McQuade, PhD