HRC 42: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery Statement by the Federation for Women and Family Planning

Thank you, President. I make this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.

We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. We strongly urge the Council to observe and analyse the linkages between labour and migration including informal labour. It is of particular importance to end impunity and build accountability for both state and the private sector on their labour practices, but this is not enough.

At the heart of modern slavery are the structures that further labour practices that are exploitative and racist, sexist, xenophobic and classist.  This is evidenced by the fact that women and girls are disproportionately affected by slavery; that migrants, refugees, displaced persons and people seeking asylum are at higher  risk of it; and that the highest rates of slavery are found in the Global South countries.

Slavery can take many forms but it serves to further a system that continues to use different means to discriminate and violate the rights of people who are disenfranchised and to entrench patriarchal and neoliberal structures pitching profits over people.                                                                                                                               

Therefore, we reiterate the recommendation made by the Special Rapporteur that States need to address the systems and structures that create conditions of slavery,  particularly in global financial, production, trading, development, labour migration and public health systems. At the same time it is imperative to highlight the need to address systemic causes instead of piecemeal individualised initiatives which results in punishing the survivors rather than upholding accountability.

We further want to highlight the need for more gender specific analysis of slavery  and responsive programmes.   The gendered nature of informal labour especially in and around unpaid care work, conflation of sex work with slavery/trafficking, and the misuse of criminal law must be explored in order to vindicate the human rights of the people who are supposed to be at the centre of any intervention. 

We demand that this Council and states reflect upon their own policies and programmes to assess their culpability and put in place programmes that end the impunity.

Thank you.