Event report: Lessons learned from over a decade of measurement in modern slavery

This seminar took place on Thursday 25 February 2021, 3.30-4.30pm, online. It was jointly organised by the Department of Statistics of the University of Oxford and the RSS Oxford Local Group.

Davina P Durgana, PhD is an award-winning international human rights statistician and professor with almost 15 years of experience developing leading global models to assess risk to modern slavery. She is senior multilateral engagement advisor of the Minderoo Foundation and senior statistician and co-author of the Global Slavery Index of Walk Free. Minderoo Foundation is one of the largest philanthropies in Asia-Pacific with over $2 billion AUD in funding across an array of issues, from eliminating plastic waste in the oceans to ending modern slavery.

Dr Durgana presented her insights on the use of statistics in the global modern slavery vulnerability and prevalence field over the past decade. She presented work on the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery with the United Nations, Global Slavery Index, and on application of multiple systems estimation throughout Europe with the UN Office on drugs and crime. She also discussed compelling developments within leading national governments on prevalence estimation and how this work engages with the global policy community.
An estimated 40.3 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016, consisting of 24.9 million people in forced labour and 15.4 million people in forced marriage. Forced marriage had previously not been included in modern slavery numbers.

Sectors where the risk of modern slavery is especially high are domestic servitude, sex, construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing.

Dr Durgana discussed the challenges in conducting research on this topic and the impact of her work on countries and governments. She then introduced the Global Slavery Index, which incorporates three dimensions: the estimated prevalence of modern slavery by country, the response by each government and the factors associated with vulnerability in each country. Methods to assess each dimension were described. She explained how the Minderoo foundation puts research findings into practice and products which are associated with modern slavery.

After the talk, one of the issues discussed was forced marriage and the distinction between forced marriage and arranged marriage, which are different but the difference in some cases can be subtle (eg a child in an arranged marriage cannot give consent therefore this is forced marriage). The contribution of forced marriage to the overall estimate of prevalence of modern slavery shows the importance of the choice of definition of such quantities to be estimated more generally. Survey methods for collecting data and in particular from individuals who are themselves victims of slavery were discussed. Generalisability of findings to other countries, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on modern slavery were also discussed.

Christiana Kartsonaki, DPhil is a senior statistician at the MRC Population Health Research Unit, Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU), Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford 

Load more