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Supporting victims of trafficking across Asia

Still from an animation that accompanied materials produced by Hagar International and UNICEF to ensure child witnesses are better treated through court processes.

Image: Hagar International

"What we want to do is make sure children come out of the other side empowered"

- Deborah Papworth, Global Legal Counsel Hagar International

Fighting human trafficking and modern slavery across Asia

According to the Global Slavery Index, of an estimated 40.3 million people currently living in slavery, over two thirds are in Asia, and many are women and children. Stories abound of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong who work seven months on average to pay off their recruitment debt, child trafficking victims in Cambodia who go through court processes unsupported and fishermen on boats in Thailand and the Philippines who suffer inhumane working conditions.

These realities drive our people to use their legal skills to support the global fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, and the impact of what we can achieve motivates us to do more.

  • We know that children who are victims of trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation in Cambodia are now better protected when they go through the criminal justice system, thanks to a collaboration between Hagar International and UNICEF that, backed by our legal research, produced an extensive suite of resources and training sessions for people working with these children. “What we want to do is make sure children come out of the other side empowered,” said Deborah Papworth of Hagar International, who coordinated the project.
  • We know that stronger legislation has been introduced in the Philippines to tackle labour exploitation, with fishers reporting access to medical protection and an average doubling of their pay rate, following global research we led for Visayan Forum Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
  • We know that many stakeholders in Thailand’s counter-trafficking movement are having key conversations now armed with a legal gap analysis of anti-trafficking legislation, prepared by us in conjunction with Liberty Shared and MAST, comparing local law to obligations under international conventions and agreements.
  • We know that domestic workers in Hong Kong are receiving timely assistance through our coordination and staffing of a Sunday drop-in clinic run by HELP for Domestic Workers. Research by Justice Centre Hong Kong estimates that 17% of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong are working in conditions of forced labour. Of these, 14% or about 8,000 individuals, have been trafficked into the situation.

The fight to combat human trafficking is far from over, but we’re proud that across Asia our people are putting their passion and experience to use in this arena and – most importantly – making an impact.