Survivor narratives should inform antislavery work says new report

The testimony of survivors should be at the forefront of antislavery work, according a new report by the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, published ahead of Anti-Slavery Day on Friday, that provides guidance on how to use the world’s largest collection of survivor stories.

The stories are drawn from VOICES, a new publicly available database that houses nearly 1000 survivor stories from across the world. Organisations, working towards the UN goal of eradicating modern slavery by 2030 are being encouraged to use the database to design interventions that better prevent slavery and support survivors.

The focus of the report, ‘Voices: Ideas for Using Survivor Testimony in Antislavery Work’, is how survivor’s stories can help to answer questions about slavery definitions, causes, interventions and aftermath. It includes case studies as examples.

There are an estimated 40 million people in slavery worldwide and a lack of evidence drawn from survivor accounts. The report highlights how this current gap in knowledge can be closed by listening to the experiences of survivors to improve antislavery interventions and aftercare.

Professor Zoe Trodd, Director of the Rights Lab, said: “For too long the voices of survivors have been marginalised or tokenised in the antislavery movement. The Voices database and guidance brings survivors’ own accounts to the forefront.

It offers an opportunity to take seriously the narratives’ details and suggestions for change, and acknowledge survivors as the experts in the antislavery field whose lived experiences are a blueprint for evidence-based solutions.

In selecting stories from the database as examples, the report has concentrated on the countries that have the highest prevalence rates of slavery, according to the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2018. These are North Korea, Eritrea, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Mauritania, South Sudan, Pakistan, Cambodia and Iran.

The report is available here and the narratives database is here.

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